Five Shanghai Orchestra Academy students spent more than eight action-packed days in New York City last month participating in both musical and cultural exchange. In addition to performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in four concerts with the New York Philharmonic as part of its annual Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, the students – called Zarin Mehta Fellows – enjoyed tours of the New York Philharmonic Archives, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and important cultural sites including the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower, Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn Bridge.
The four Concerts in the Parks performances attained resounding success with the Fellows. The students – Renchao Yu, violin; Kuan Liu, viola; Fangyu Huang, flute; Yanru Chiu, clarinet; and Sihong Zhao, bassoon – met superstar violinist Joshua Bell in addition to working one-on-one with New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Frank Huang, Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, and other Philharmonic Principals.
Violinist Renchao Yu describes his experience in rehearsals saying, "I feel familiar with [the New York Philharmonic musicians] and [am] very comfortable performing with them, as we have studied with the Principals from the New York Philharmonic when they attended the Music in the Summer Air festival in Shanghai [last summer]." He added, “We have stress but in a positive way," he said. "It helps us be more concentrated and more sensitive in performance.”
In July, the New York Philharmonic goes to Shanghai for its fourth and final teaching session of the academic year. In addition to master classes, the Philharmonic, led by Assistant Conductor Joshua Gersen, will host a side-by-side rehearsal with SOA students playing Scheherazade.