Postcards from Asia - Britten Sinfonia - Blog

Postcards from Asia

Britten Sinfonia have been on a busy tour of Asia with pianist Benjamin Grosvenor this November. Here the staff and musicians share some of their highlights from an action-packed tour.

15 November 2019
Hi everyone; ‘nihau’ from China!

Early morning in Wuhan

We’re having a successful tour so far, having performed last night at the fantastic Qintai Concert Hall in Wuhan (surrounded by a lake filled with exotic lotus flowers, and their delicious edible roots) as part of their 10th anniversary festival of concerts. We’re really proud to be on their ‘great artists’ rostra.

Second Violins exploring Wuhan, China

Now on the super-speed bullet train heading to Guangzhou where we’ll perform two concerts featuring works of Bach and Mozart at the Zaha Hadid–designed Opera House after which we’ll be sampling some of the famous dimsum, which originates from the region. Yum!

Taking the bullet train to Guangzhou

Wish you were here!⁣⁣
All of us at Britten Sinfonia


16 November 2019
Dear Friends,

We’ve just finished a jam-packed day of concerts in Guangzhou, not one but two performances of Bach’s Goldberg Variations arranged for string orchestra by Dimitri Sitkovetsky.

The Guangzhou skyline

Taking a bow in Guangzhou’s Opera House

Next stop: Beijing!

After an early start and a quick flight, the change in weather is a bit of a shock, from a balmy 28 degrees in Guangzhou to a chilly 8 in Beijing. Amazing being back at the NCPA, or as it’s fondly known ‘The Egg’.

On stage in the NCPA, Beijing

Here’s to another successful concert tonight!
All of us at Britten Sinfonia


17 November 2019
Hi everybody!

So, we’ve reached the mid-point of our tour, and what an exciting and high-octane trip across China this is proving, playing to a full house last night at NCPA Beijing.

True to form, our 2nd violin running cohort have been out in force, sprinting past the Beijing Pearl Market, past the Temple of Heaven, and the famous Tiananmen Square.

Our horns Alex and Tom Rounded off the day with some delicious crispy Peking Duck – delicious!

When life hands you bananas: Violist Meghan Cassidy enjoying an unusually large bunch of bananas backstage at Grand Theatre Shanghai

Would write more, but heading straight to our next destination – Shanghai! Our concert in Shanghai has been generously supported by Deloitte UK – thanks to guests from Deloitte China for joining us at the Shanghai concert.

Advertisment for our concert in Shanghai

See you soon,
Britten Sinfonia


18 November 2019
Hello everyone

We are having an absolutely fantastic time in China, having given 5 of the 6 concerts on this tour. We’re feeling elated, if a little tired, as we gallop towards the home stretch.

Last night we performed at Shanghai Grand Theatre (there was a huge billboard featuring larger than life images of Thomas Gould, Benjamin Grosvenor and the orchestra at the front of the hall!) thanks to the generosity of Deloitte. Peter and Jessica (oboes) along with Alex and Tom (horns) joined guests from Deloitte backstage before the concert for informal drinks celebrating the sponsorship.

Chief Executive & Artistic Director David Butcher talks to guests from sponsor Deloitte

Alex Wide (horn) talks to guests from sponsor Deloitte

After a warmly-received performance, we rounded-off the evening in the Radisson Blu sky bar for some drinks. We’re sad to have said ‘goodbye’ to mainland China, but we’re now waving ‘hello’ to Taipei.

Second Violins enjoying a post-concert drink

Here in Taiwan they greet each other by asking ‘have you eaten?’ Which is apt as we’re on our 3rd-from-last flight (of many) on this tour, currently eating some tasty chicken and rice…

Britten Sinfonia


19 November 2019
Nihau everyone!

And so to Taipei, our final destination before returning home…

Promoting our concert in Taipei

The concert hall is amazing – although modern in construction (1987) is based on a much older traditional style, situated on Liberty Square, alongside the mirror-image National Theatre, and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Taipei’s spectacular National Theatre & Concert Hall

The venue had commissioned two of the encores we performed on tour ‘Far Away’ made famous by Jay Chou and ‘The Forgotten Time’ by Tsai Chin, lovingly arranged by Roman Benedict, which were met with rapturous applause.

Thus concludes this epic tour – we’ve a long journey ahead, but with a beer in hand, and that standing ovation fresh in our minds we leave Taiwan; see you again hopefully!

One final bow – Taipei

If you want to catch us with Benjamin Grosvenor in the UK we still have two concerts remaining before the tour is ‘officially’ over: in Saffron Walden on Sunday 24 November, 3pm and at London’s Milton Court on Tuesday 26 November, 7.30pm.

All of us at Britten Sinfonia .


A post-concert drink in Wuhan


On stage rehearsal in Shanghai


Thom foolery in Guangzhou Opera House