03 April 2012

Michael Fuller writes: We're off to Shanghai today from Guangzhou, and I have to give special props to my lovely wife Lulu and her peerless Mandarin speaking skills. After a major foul-up at the check-in desk in Guangzhou, where the flight was overbooked, boarding passes were assigned to the wrong people, and passports temporarily disappeared, Lulu was the only one able to communicate with all the parties involved to make sure everyone got on a flight in the end. To make a long story short, there were a few of us who might have had to hitchhike to Shanghai if she hadn't saved the day! Bravo Lulu! Or maybe I should say-

It's really impressive to see all the ultra-modern hotels, concert halls, high-speed rail and airports in this 'New China'. I have been to China several times now, and every time I come back I am amazed at how it has modernized by leaps and bounds. Walking around the area where we stayed and played last night felt like being in a city of the future. But sometimes, when things like this airport incident happen, I get the feeling that it doesn't all quite work yet! I think it's only a matter of time, but there has been such a rapid change in so many aspects of life here that it's as though people haven't had a chance to adjust yet. If you think about how Europe changed and became more modern over centuries, and China is doing that and much more in the space of a couple of decades. It's wild to literally see it happen right before your eyes. One thing I feel more strongly than ever on this trip is that China IS the future, and that's why it's so important that the Philharmonia is over here playing great concerts with a conductor like Maestro Maazel. The audiences so far have been really passionate, erupting into cheers after the final chords of Mahler 1!

This afternoon in Shanghai a few of us sampled an older Chinese tradition- Xiao Long Bao, the famous Shanghai soup dumplings, which were fantastic! That was followed by a walk on the Bund, the famous promenade along the Huangpu river which has old buildings from the colonial period on one side and the brand-spanking new skyline of the Pudong area on the other. Clearly the right move at this point is cocktails in a spot overlooking all this grandeur, now that's Shanghai in style!