NYO-USA: Visiting China's Finest Concert Halls
This July, after performing at Carnegie Hall and The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, SUNY, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America will embark on its first-ever concert tour of China. The orchestra, composed of America’s brightest young musicians, will perform at seven of the leading venues in China. As the pre-eminent performing arts centers in their respective metropolitan areas, these are the same concert halls frequented by major American and European orchestras when touring China. Reflecting a recent building boom of architecturally-innovative performing arts centers in China, six of the seven venues were built within the past two decades.
National Centre for the Performing Arts by Hui Lan
Sometimes referred to as “The Giant Egg,” in reference to its ellipsoidal shape, the National Centre for the Performing Arts is the largest performing arts center under one roof in the world. The building’s dome, made of titanium and glass, is surrounded by an artificial lake. The main entrance takes guests under the lake and to three large performance spaces within the dome. The center’s prestige is also due to its location, just steps from Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People, and the Forbidden City. It is one of three performing arts centers on NYO-USA’s tour designed by French architect Paul Andreu.
Shanghai Oriental Art Center
Shaped to resemble a butterfly orchid from above, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center comprises five wings. Located adjacent to Pudong, a former industrial district that is now the site of staggering skyscrapers, the building is at the center of contemporary Shanghai and contributes to Shanghai’s legendary skyline, with a roof that changes color according to the performance happening inside. NYO-USA performs in the largest of the building’s three primary venues, the Concert Hall.
Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre
Previously known as the Suzhou Science and Culture Arts Centre, the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre houses an IMAX theater and seven movie theaters in addition to spaces for live performing arts. The center brings China’s Golden Rooster Cinematic Awards to Suzhou every other year.
Xi’an Concert Hall
The Xi’an Concert Hall resembles traditional Chinese architecture on the outside, which seems appropriate for a concert hall in the city that is also home to the famed Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Inside, the hall is a contemporary concert venue seating nearly 1,300 people.
Shenzhen Concert Hall
Shenzhen, a city situated on the border with Hong Kong, is known both for its port and its importance as a financial center. The Shenzhen Concert Hall shares a building with the Shenzhen Library, together forming the Shenzhen Cultural Center. Japanese architect Arata Isozaki designed this building and its “vineyard-style” concert hall.
Xinghai Concert Hall by 慕尼黑啤酒
The Xinghai Concert Hall is situated on Er’sha Island in the Pearl River, which flows through central Guangzhou. The building is named after Xian Xinghai, a renowned Chinese composer. The hyperbolic shape of the building’s roof contributes to its great acoustics.
Hong Kong Cultural Centre by Mike Peel
Owned and operated by the Hong Kong government, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre is situated on the Victoria Harbour waterfront, with a spectacular view of Hong Kong Island and its legendary skyline. The center’s opening in 1989 was officiated by Charles, Prince of Wales, and Princess Diana. NYO-USA performs in the Concert Hall, one of three venues in the building and home to the largest pipe organ in Asia.