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San Diego Youth Symphony - Road To China

Airs Friday, January 1, 2016 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: The San Diego Youth Symphony is shown on the Great Wall of China during the group's tour of China, June 26, 2015.

The San Diego Youth Symphony traveled to China last summer to celebrate its 70th anniversary, sponsored by Qualcomm Incorporated. This documentary follows the orchestra of 109 students and alumni joined by 10 chaperons and 20 patrons an orchestra on a 15-day tour of China.

Courtesy of Ken Jacques

San Diego Youth Symphony China Tour orchestra at the Bon Voyage Concert in the Plaza de Panama, Balboa Park, June 18, 2015.


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The documentary starts at the orchestra’s Bon Voyage Concert a free concert in the Plaza de Panama in the heart of Balboa Park to celebrate this milestone with the city of San Diego. We then join the tour as they travel to China and are immersed in musical and cultural exchanges. The orchestra performed at the famed Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, the Poly Grand Theatre in San Diego’s Sister City of Yantai and a special Fourth of July Concert in the prestigious Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai. This one-hour documentary of the tour was produced in partnership with the San Diego State University School of Theatre, Television, and Film.

“The China Tour provided experiences for our talented young musicians that will create lifetime memories,” said Music Director Jeff Edmons, “Not only were they able to share their extraordinary talent, they made connections and had cultural experiences that will enrich their lives and the lives of our audiences."

SDYS last visited China in 1981 when it had the honor of touring and performing in Canton, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. In 1981, the concert in Shanghai was telecast by satellite to the United States, making the first use of satellite transmission for a cultural broadcast between the United States and China. For the 2015 Tour SDYS partnered with Dr. Tim Powell at San Diego State University School of Theatre, Television, and Film to produce this documentary. The tour was also be featured on the United Nations Global Peace Day Broadcast in September 2015.

“Taking music to China together has created bonds between us and our Chinese hosts that will be with us for the rest of our lives,” said President and CEO Dalouge Smith, “We are all so fortunate to have given and received this ultimate gift through the power of music.“

About the San Diego Youth Symphony

The San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s artistic excellence is led by Music Director Jeff Edmons who is celebrating his 20th anniversary with SDYS. Under his leadership and dedication, SDYS musicians achieve unparalleled standards in musicianship and artistry. His experience and artistic talents have led him to conduct professional orchestras such as Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Diego Symphony. Under his baton, our students have honed their musical skills and are frequently invited to participate in famous international music festivals such as the Kennedy Center Summer Institute in Washington D.C., Juilliard School in New York and Prague Summer Festival in Czech Republic.

Leading the Cause for Music Education

Under Dalouge Smith, SDYS President and CEO, who is approaching his 11th season, SDYS has developed its vision to “make music education accessible and affordable for all students.” In pursuit of this vision, Mr. Smith has transformed SDYS into a community instigator for restoring and strengthening music education in schools. SDYS has expanded its work beyond music programs to include measurement, partnerships, community awareness, and community action.

Along with using its flagship orchestras and ensembles in pursuit of its vision, in 2010 SDYS launched its first community music program inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema. In early 2013, SDYS’ school district partner, Chula Vista Elementary School District, announced its commitment to return music education to all 45 of its campuses and all 29,000 of its students. At the beginning of 2014, the District was one of only two districts nationwide to become a new VH1 Save the Music Foundation grantee. At the 2014 Arts Education Partnership National Forum, SDYS was named “a national example” by National Endowment for the Arts Chair Jane Chu, “not just of individual impact, but of systemic change.”

This program will be available for online viewing after the broadcast.


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