National Arts Centre Orchestra Pre-Concert Reception (Shanghai, China)
Shanghai, China, Saturday, October 19, 2013
Thank you for your warm welcome.
Let me begin by thanking our consul general for being Canada’s invaluable point of contact in Shanghai, and for hosting this reception.
I am delighted to be in Shanghai on this, the first night of the China Shanghai International Arts Festival, to enjoy what promises to be a wonderful concluding performance in China by Canada’s own National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Over the years, Canada and China have co-operated strongly on the arts. By enabling artists to do their important work, these efforts have deepened cultural understanding between our two nations.
My wife, Sharon, and I have been looking forward to this performance at Shanghai Concert Hall, for two main reasons.
One is that we both appreciate and enjoy classical music. And living as we do in Ottawa—the home city of the National Arts Centre Orchestra—we are fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend past performances by this talented assembly of musicians.
For those of you who will be hearing this orchestra for this first time this evening, I can assure you: we are in for a treat.
The other reason I am so pleased to be here is because of what this performance represents for Canada and China.
Our two countries have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1970 and, of course, our people-to-people ties go back even further. But the presence of Canada’s national orchestra in China signifies the deepening of our cultural relationship at a level not yet seen.
Over the past two weeks, the National Arts Centre Orchestra has played concerts before audiences in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Fuling, Chongqing, Tianjin and Beijing.
Orchestra officials and other Canadians and students have also participated in dozens of related educational events with Chinese lovers of music.
The concerts and events are all part of the orchestra’s first-ever visit to mainland China. It truly is reason to celebrate.
Equally exciting is the prospect of China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra travelling to Canada for a reciprocal tour next year. I am certain that Canadian audiences will respond just as enthusiastically as their Chinese counterparts.
It is often said that music is a universal language, but there is a value to these exchanges that transcends the concert hall.
Culture is among the highest expressions of our humanity, and by sharing and learning about our respective cultures, Canadians and Chinese people come to know each other in profound and surprising ways. It is for this reason that former Premier Wen Jiabao and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed last year to hold a series of cultural activities like this one.
In addition to tonight’s concert, Sharon and I are also pleased to be attending the opening of the Barkerville photo exhibit in Guangzhou later this week, which is a poignant and inspiring reminder of the perseverance of the earliest Chinese immigrants to Canada.
Both the exhibit and the concert tour are excellent ways to strengthen cultural appreciation and understanding between Canada and China.
I would like to thank all who have played a role in making this exchange possible.
Have a wonderful evening.