The National Arts Centre Orchestra tours China for the first time
Linking Canada and China through Performance, Education and Technology

Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra led by renowned Music Director Pinchas Zukerman will tour China for the first time in its 43-year history from October 4-20, 2013. At the official media launch in Ottawa today, the National Arts Centre (NAC) announced that 70 musicians from Canada’s National Orchestra will travel to 7 cities including: Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Fuling, Tianjin, Beijing, and Shanghai.  With the support of Honourary Patron Richard Li and Presenting Partner Aimia, the NAC Orchestra will perform 8 major concerts with more than 80 education and outreach activities and 5 international broadband videoconference events linking young musicians in Canada and China.

The tour will showcase works by Canadian composers John Estacio and Alexina Louie, as part of the NAC’s commitment to Canadian creative artists. This tour will be an exceptional educational experience for the NAC’s musicians and talented young students in China.

Touring comes naturally to the NAC Orchestra which has visited every region of Canada and played the role of cultural ambassador in past international tours in various parts of the world.

In February 2012, during Prime Minister Harper’s visit to China, Canada and China committed to a series of initiatives that would strengthen their bilateral relationship, including holding cultural events in each other’s countries in 2013–2014. The tour supports this objective.

 “On behalf of the Government of Canada , I would like to congratulate the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing on this partnership and on making this tour possible,” said the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “Two great national institutions are working side by side and demonstrating the strong relationship between our countries. I know music lovers in both countries and children who will take part in education activities will be delighted by this tour.”

The tour will coincide with the annual general meeting of the Canada China Business Council in Beijing with a major concert on October 17, 2013 at the National Centre for the Performing Arts hosted by Canadian Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques.


  • Pinchas Zukerman, the NAC’s brilliant conductor and internationally acclaimed violist, violinist and teacher will perform as a soloist during the tour and will teach many young students in China.
  • The works of Canadian composers Alexina Louie and John Estacio, “Bringing The Tiger Down From The Mountain II” and “Brio: Toccata And Fantasy For Orchestra” will be featured prominently in the concert repertoire. Both composers will take part in many concerts and outreach events during the tour. The tour has special significance to Alexina Louie, whose family is originally from China.
  • Amanda Forsyth, the principal cellist of the NAC Orchestra will perform “Bringing The Tiger Down From The Mountain II” by Chinese-Canadian composer, Alexina Louie at a joint concert with the combined forces of the NAC Orchestra and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta in Hong Kong.
  • As a direct result of the NAC’s world-leading expertise in the use of broadband internet technology, three permanent broadband videoconference connections will be established at - leading conservatories across China and at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing. This legacy project will enable young musicians in China to learn from the best international teachers at their home institutions.

 “At the National Arts Centre, we see our role as promoting Canadian artists to the world, building bridges of international cooperation and understanding between countries,” said Peter A. Herrndorf, President and CEO of the NAC. “Through presenting new Canadian orchestral music, and our pioneering work in technology and education, this tour promises to deepen the ties that bind Canada and China.” 

“At Aimia, we take great pride in celebrating Canadian achievements on the world stage. As the global leader in loyalty, we understand the commitment, focus and determination that it takes to achieve excellence. That is why we are so proud to be partnering with the National Arts Centre Orchestra to share outstanding performances and musical education with the world”, said Rupert Duchesne, CEO of Aimia. “Aimia is pleased to lead such an impressive group of Canadian companies in supporting this historic tour. We believe in the power of the arts to open doors and inspire an exchange of culture and ideas that will strengthen the relationship between two great countries.” 

This tour is built around a long-term relationship between Canada’s National Arts Centre and China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), which recently signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding for cultural exchange and collaboration.  Under this agreement, the NAC will host the NCPA Orchestra in the fall of 2014 for a concert in Southam Hall.  Furthermore, discussions are underway for both creative and educational collaborations in future years.

“We see the arts and culture as another important way to express and represent our country on the world stage. Through this agreement, the NCPA and the NAC are strengthening relations between China and Canada,” said NCPA President Chen Ping.

A key tour highlight will certainly be the opening concert in Hong Kong, which will bring two great orchestras together – the NAC Orchestra and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta – for the first time. More than 130 musicians will be on stage creating a powerful symbol our our two cultures working together.


When internationally acclaimed violinist and violist Pinchas Zukerman came to the National Arts Centre 14 years ago he wanted to accomplish two things: to build an international reputation for the Orchestra and to choose musicians that were not only great performers but also great teachers. The NAC Orchestra is now known as Canada’s greatest teaching Orchestra and as an international leader in distance learning through broadband videoconference technology. 

China is experiencing extraordinary growth in music: it’s estimated that 100 million children in China are currently studying the piano or the violin. This tour will showcase both the incredible sound of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra and the lasting legacy of teaching the next generation of great musicians in China.  

“We are hoping to share what we do best. I know how to play the fiddle, and I was fortunate to have some wonderful teachers. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned in sessions with talented young students from China. I come to China with an open heart,” said Pinchas Zukerman the Music Director of the NAC Orchestra. “I am so proud of how great this orchestra sounds and I can’t wait to bring their music to the Chinese audiences.”

Zukerman was mentored by American violinist Isaac Stern in the 1960s. In many ways during this tour, Zukerman and members of the NAC Orchestra will be following in Stern’s footsteps. Virtuoso violinist Isaac Stern spent more than a month in China in 1978.  His visit resulted in a documentary entitled “From Mao to Mozart” about an extraordinary teacher and his Chinese students. The documentary won an academy award in 1980. 


The tour will expose international audiences to the creative work of two of Canada’s most distinguished composers, both recipients of the prestigious National Arts Centre Award for Canadian Composers, John Estacio and Alexina Louie. 

“Last year, the NAC Orchestra took me and my work to audiences in Atlantic Canada for the first time.  This coming fall, I am delighted to be joining them on this odyssey which will bring my music to China,” said John Estacio.

For Chinese-Canadian composer, Alexina Louie, the tour will be a return to her ancestral roots. Louie is a 3rd generation Canadian and has traced her family history through 27 generations. She has only visited China once in 1973, on a family visit. Her music will be performed in Hong Kong.

“To have my music performed in China is remarkable, because my family is originally from China,” said Alexina Louie. “Bringing The Tiger Down From The Mountain II is inspired by the name of a Tai Chi move— to me it evokes an image of power and lyricism from China.” 


The National Arts Centre and our partners in China believe music belongs in the most public places, to be shared with all. Pop-up concerts are being planned at iconic sites like the Forbidden City. A variety of concerts for school children from diverse backgrounds will introduce them to western instruments and music. For many, this will be the first time they have met anyone from Canada, and they will respond by playing Chinese music on traditional Chinese instruments— truly a cultural exchange.


The NAC is an international leader in distance learning through broadband videoconference technology. Under the direction of Music Director Pinchas Zukerman and New Media Producer, Maurizio Ortolani the NAC will connect its cutting edge multimedia studio in Ottawa to four leading conservatories in China including: the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, the Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou, the Shanghai Conservatory, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing as well as to the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

Five international distance learning events will be a highlight of the tour, linking young musicians in China to Canada.  NAC Musicians will participate, as well as Pinchas Zukerman and Canada’s Goodwill Ambassador to China Mark Rowswell, known as Dashan in China. Rowswell has been called the most famous foreign media personality in China.



John Estacio          Brio: Toccata and Fantasy for Orchestra (Canadian composer)

Bruch                      Violin Concerto No. 1 (Pinchas Zukerman, violin)

Brahms                   Symphony No. 2


John Estacio             Brio: Toccata and Fantasy for Orchestra
                                   (Canadian composer)

Mozart                       Violin Concerto No. 3
                                   (Pinchas Zukerman, violin)

Tchaikovsky             Symphony No. 5

PROGRAM C        (Hong Kong)

Alexina Louie          Bringing the Tiger Down from the Mountain II (Amanda Forsyth, cello)
                                  (National Arts Centre Orchestra)

Mozart                       Violin Concerto No. #3 (Pinchas Zukerman, violin)
                                   (Hong Kong Sinfonietta)

Tchaikovsky           Symphony No. 5
                                 (Hong Kong Sinfonietta and NAC Orchestra)


As many as three students from China who have been mentored by Pinchas Zukerman in Canada will join the tour as members of the NAC Orchestra. Two music students from Beijing, Zhangli Junyi and Wang Yuehan will travel to Canada in June to be mentored by Pinchas Zukerman and members of the NAC Orchestra at the annual Summer Music Institute, a musical bootcamp for leading young musicians from Canada and around the world.


The NAC is a leader in new media and has created a website at where people can follow this extraordinary tour. Follow us on facebook, twitter, and Sina Weibo #NACOChina2013. Daily reports will be posted throughout the tour at these sites.

  • Sunday, October 6 | Hong Kong - Hong Kong Cultural Centre
  • Tuesday, October 8 | Guangzhou - Xinghai Concert Hall
  • Thursday, October 10 | Chongqing - Chongqing Grand Theatre
  • Friday, October 11 | Fuling - Fuling Grand Theatre
  • Sunday, October 13 | Tianjin - Tianjin Grand Theatre
  • Wednesday, October 16 | Beijing -  Venue TBA
  • Thursday, October 17 | Beijing -  National Centre for the Performing Arts
  • Saturday, October 19 | Shanghai - Shanghai Concert Hall


An international tour of this magnitude would not be possible without the generous support of individuals and corporations from across Canada. The National Arts Centre and National Arts Centre Foundation gratefully acknowledge the tremendous support of Presenting Partner Aimia, Major Partners CN, Enbridge Inc., Plasco Energy Group, Power Corporation of Canada, James and Emily Ho, and Education Partner RBC Capital Markets. Thank you also to Supporting Partners Cameco, Export Development Canada, Husky Energy, Hotel Partner Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts, Travel Partner Air Canada and Friends Magna International Inc.

For his commitment to the performing arts in both Canada and China, the National Arts Centre extends a warm thank you to Richard Li, Honourary Patron of the China Tour. The National Arts Centre would also like to thank the Government of Canada for its support of the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s Performance and Education Tour of China. 


The National Arts Centre believes nation building through the performing arts, by providing a home for Canada’s most creative artists, by being artistically adventurous and by being a catalyst for performance, creation and learning in every part of the country and around the world. The NAC is Canada’s only bilingual multi-disciplinary performing arts centre and one of the largest in the world.


Aimia is a global leader in loyalty management. Aimia’s unique capabilities include proven expertise in delivering proprietary loyalty services, launching and managing coalition loyalty programs, creating value through loyalty analytics and driving innovation in the emerging digital and mobile spaces. Aimia owns and operates Aeroplan, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program and Nectar, the United Kingdom’s largest coalition loyalty program. In addition, Aimia has majority equity positions in Air Miles Middle East and Nectar Italia as well as a minority position in Club Premier, Mexico’s leading coalition loyalty program and Cardlytics, a U.S.-based private company operating in transaction-driven marketing for electronic banking.

For more information please contact:

Rosemary Thompson
Director of Communications and Public Affairs
National Arts Centre
(613) 947-7000 ext 260

Andrea Hossack
Communicaitons Officer
National Arts Centre Orchestra
(613) 947-7000 ext 335