The members of the String Quartet visited China in the period 1–10 January, where they gave a concert at the monumental Tianjin Concert Hall, at the invitation of the Belgrade Philharmonic’s former Chief Conductor Muhai Tang. During their stay in China, the musicians also took the opportunity to appear as principals of string sections of the city’s symphony orchestra, as well as to hold masterclasses for their Chinese counterparts.
In the recital that attracted a large audience, the Quartet played Despić’s Homage to Stevan Mokranjac, Mozart’s Quartet No 15 and Ravel’s String Quartet in F major.
In the “fiery” concert with the symphony orchestra, under the baton of Muhai Tang, they performed Stravinsky’s Firebird, Haydn’s Fire symphony and Wang’s Torch Festival.
“Spearheading the symphony orchestra of the 15-million-people Chinese city of Tianjin was far from easy, but it was a unique task by all means. As we shared the stage and experiences, the connection of two civilisations resulted in an unexpected and quite different interpretation of the music of renowned Western composers, such as Haydn, de Falla, Stravinsky… Together with the two-day masterclass in which we worked with our Chinese counterparts, our guest appearance turned into a celebration of diversity, but also a celebration of the similarity of artists’ essential needs and aspirations, wherever they lived and worked”, said Quartet’s first violin Jelena Dragnić upon returning from China.
The Quartet’s first visit to China was marked by excellent reception from the audience, exchange of knowledge and experiences with the members of the local Symphony Orchestra, as well as delight in the cultural idiosyncrasies that this visit had to offer.
Cellist Aleksandar Latković was also full of impressions from this journey: “If you want to know what it looks like to fly over the Himalayas and the entire Asian continent, land in the capital of the world’s most populous country, eat three meals per day using only chopsticks, enjoy the Chinese massage techniques; what it feels like to realise for the first time, playing to the Tianjin audience, the musical expression and tone of your own quartet, to perform Mokranjac’s citations and the Western classics which we rightfully consider as our own, and enjoy the acoustics of the newly conquered concert hall wearing the “jersey” of your resident orchestra and your home city… I will tell you: It feels like an Olympic triumph!”