An Adventure to Mongolia for the Philadelphia Orchestra

May 29, 2017

An 18-member contingent from the Philadelphia Orchestra is going to Mongolia June 2nd through the 4th. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports on the preparations as part of its Far East tour to China and South Korea.


David Patrick Stearns: Philadelphia Orchestra principal hornist Jennifer Montone may just have a yurt in her future. She says she found one of those round, tent-like Mongolian dwellings on Airbnb, yak herds and all. However, orchestra executive Ryan Fleur was over there during the winter, and gives a more realistic view of Mongolia’s noble nomads.

Ryan Fleur: They heat the yurts with little furnaces and they will throw anything and everything in. So people throw tires and other stuff. So what happens is the smoke, the exhaust floats up...

DPS: The Philadelphia Orchestra can be adventurous, and would have to be to conduct master classes with brass bands at something called the National Defense University. Other plans are still formulating.

RF: Our partners at the U.S. government said, you know, when you talk to them it’s very clear that next spring is four seasons away. They think in terms of seasons. They’re used to putting things together in a three-week time period.

DPS: All of that makes the rest of the tour look civilized in comparison. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a Beethoven’s 9th in Beijing that will be broadcast, as will one of the South Korea concerts. But China is still full of wild cards. A change in the gambling laws made the resort city of Macau re-evaluate its entertainment options. At least the orchestra has less competition in Mongolia.

RF: They have a place called the American Square. This is what they have in the corner of the American Square: a Beatles statue. And they’re very proud of that. We’re going to perform here.

DPS: And what will the audience be used to hearing?