Tour of China-World Expo Shanghai
Cross Border Orchestra Tour of China
CBOI Shanghai Sensation
The Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland (CBOI) has just returned from what can only be described as a sensational trip of a lifetime to Shanghai where they performed seven sell out concerts in as many days.
When the CBOI was invited by the Irish Government to represent Ireland at EXPO 2010, Shanghai, Director Sharon Treacy-Dunne saw it as an historic once in a lifetime opportunity and simply too important to miss. Planning for the tour was horrendously complex and took over a year. A monumental amount of paper work and administration made preparations very difficult, not to mention the security checks, language barrier, volumes of dreaded red tape and foreign customs and laws associated with this post communist China. However, undeterred and supported by the Irish Ex-Pat community of Shanghai and the Irish Government, the group of 100 musicians and chaperones flew to Shanghai last week to begin a hectic schedule of performances.
Last week was the final week of EXPO 2010. Over the past six months 73 million people visited the Shanghai EXPO with almost 1 million a day visiting last week for the closing ceremonies. Following ensemble performances at the UK and Irish Pavilions, the CBOI’s headline performance took place outdoors at Pacific Stage on Saturday evening before an audience of thousands who had started queuing for seats hours before the concert was scheduled to begin. The thousands who couldn’t be seated were happy to stand for hours before the concert and for the entire 2 hour show. The CBOI give the performance of their lives and the audience simply went wild. The atmosphere was electric. Violinist Patricia Treacy, Uilleann Piper Patrick Martin, Tenor Emmanuel Lawler and the CBOI Drum and Piping Corps were a sensation. After numerous standing ovations and encores the CBOI left the stage but the Chinese audience did not want the concert to end and queued for autographs and photographs of orchestra members. The orchestra members said it was the most incredible experience of their lives, “we felt like real celebrities, we just loved it, it was amazing”, said Niamh Holmes from Dundalk. CBOI conductor Gearóid Grant who has conducted great orchestras all over the world described this concert as the highlight of his career.
And this was only the beginning. The CBOI then went on to perform at one of China’s most prestigious venues, Shanghai Oriental Art Centre (SOAC) – the Carnegie Hall of China. Performances at SOAC are by invitation only as the hall is strictly governed and reserved for only the best orchestras in the world. Having heard the CBOI’s CD, directors of SOAC issued an invitation to them to perform a headline concert which was sponsored by Shanghai Radio and broadcast live to an audience of over 23 million. Orchestra founder and director Sharon Treacy-Dunne described this as “the greatest imaginable honour”. The orchestra was joined in concert by a youth choir of 350 members made up of young people from Shanghai’s International Schools and Universities. The orchestra, choir and soloists gave the concert of their lives and the audience clapped and cheered in an unprecedented outpouring of appreciation. The concert was described by audience members as “inspirational”, “uplifting, unforgettable” and “absolutely thrilling”.
Another highlight of the tour was an exclusive performance and dinner at the luxurious five-star Shangri-La Hotel for a VIP audience made up of the great and good of Shanghai. The performance billed as a “Live Musical Brunch with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland” was a total sell out. The entire event was masterminded and organised by hotel Manager Peter Clarke originally from Ardee, Co. Louth. The CBOI has performed at many Gala dinners over the years but nothing could ever compare to the stunning Ballroom of the Shangri-La Hotel and the sheer perfection with which it was set out with breath taking attention to detail. Peter Clarke is a brilliant Manager and with him at the helm it is no surprise that the Shanghai Shangri-La ranks 2nd in Asia and 9th in the world for quality and class. This was the final concert and so the orchestra was determined to be as brilliant as possible. Again they played ‘out of their skins’ giving one of the best performances in their 15 year history. The audience loved them and applauded and cheered them all the way. Standing ovations had been the order of the day and this performance was no exception.
Additional performances were hosted by Concordia International School thanks to co-ordinator Mr Steven Nurre and Shanghai American International School thanks to the Director of SAS Performing Arts Centre Mr Doug Hundley. Both were packed to capacity with the orchestra giving sensational performances and receiving multiple standing ovations.
But it wasn’t all work for the Dundalk based orchestra. In addition to sampling authentic Chinese cuisine, the group was treated daily to five-star catering at the magnificent Shangri-La Hotel courtesy of Peter Clarke who also instructed his staff to open the hotel’s sweet shop and ice cream parlour free of charge for all CBOI members. “It was like candy heaven – we couldn’t believe it – we just didn’t want to leave”, remarked orchestra member Fiona Molloy from Kilkerley. When organising the tour, CBOI Director wanted to make sure that all the members experienced real Chinese culture and so included in the itinerary were a river boat cruise by night; a visit to the world famous Era Acrobatic show; shopping trips to Shanghai markets; a visit to the World’s highest observatory and sky walk at Shanghai’s World Trade Centre; and a visit to the 400 year old Yu Yuan gardens.
The CBOI owes a huge debt of gratitude to all who helped make this tour a once in a lifetime experience especially John Kennedy, Commissioner General Ireland Pavilion / Office of An Taoiseach, and the Irish Government who provided funding for the tour. Thanks also to Mr. Eoin Murphy, Former President and Founder of Le Cheile, Shanghai. Eoin along with Le Cheile members Mrs. Bernadette Dietsche and Mr and Mrs James and Jiale Ryan provided enormous on the group support for the CBOI prior to and during their tour. Huge thanks also to Mr. Oliver Rassat Director EU Pavilion - EXPO 2010 Shanghai who coordinated and organized CBOI performance at Pacific Square on behalf of Ireland, the UK and Europe.
Thanks also to Sinead Sullivan, Office of An Taoiseach; Mrs. Bernadette Dietsche, Treasurer, Le Cheile. CBOI China Liaison; Mr. and Mrs. James and Jiale Ryan, Le Cheile/ Ireland Pavilion/ 411Galeries / ELS Express Freight Forwarding; Mr. Ting Zhong Deng, Le Cheile, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland; Mr Oliver Rassat, Director EU Pavilion - EXPO 2010 Shanghai; Ms. Carolyn, Shao Shijie, Expo Events Bureau, Shanghai; Mr. Zhou Bin, Expo Events Bureau, Shanghai; Mr. David Martin, Deputy Pavilion Director British Pavilion EXPO 2010, British Consulate General, Shanghai; Mr. Paul Howson, Director of Events, British Pavilion, EXPO 2010;Mr. James Welch, EXPO 2010 Technical Adviser and Stage Manager, UK Pavilion, British Consulate General; Mr. Peter Clarke, General Manager, Shangre-La Hotel, Shanghai; Mr Stephen Keenan, Saffron Travel; Concordia International School: Steve Nurre, Meg Ideker and Rob Chapman; Dulwich International School: Joanne Brooke and Stephanie Grafe; Shanghai Community International School: Angela McKeown; Western International School: Anne Drouet; Shanghai American School: Doug Hundley and Karolina Pek; Yew Chung International School of Shanghai: Sally Davis; Fudan University: Michelle Liang.
Photos: Eoin Murphy
For further information please contact:
Sharon Treacy-Dunne. 0868283268
UPDATE: CBOI WINS SHANGHAI EXPO AWARD!
The CBOI has won a special appreciation award for our outstanding, exceptional and brilliant performance at the Shanghai World EXPO 2010. This is fantastic news!!! Congratulations to everyone and a huge thank you to all our wonderful sponsors for helping to make this possible.
Conor O’Riordan, Consulate General of Ireland and Eoin Murphy, Former President and Founder of Le Cheile accepting the award on our behalf.
Shanghai is still buzzing after the Cross Border Orchestra’s tour, with the CBOI receiving outstanding reviews. Click the image below to read what The Global Times had to say of the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre concert.