York musicians take cultural spin in China

Emily Yinger
York Dispatch
  • Lawrence Golan, Jody Greve, Elizabeth Erenberg and Michael Reichman are in China for a one-month tour.
  • The tour with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra features 14 cities.

As many of us recover from our Independence Day celebration, members of the York Symphony Orchestra are 7,000 miles away, preparing for their next concert in the People’s Republic of China.

Music director Lawrence Golan, general manager and flutist Michael Reichman, violist Jody Greve and first flutist Elizabeth Erenberg are all performing with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra on a one-month, 14-city tour of China.

The tour, which began June 17 and ends Sunday, includes 63 musicians from various parts of the U.S. and Latin American countries such as Guatemala and Costa Rica.

"I’ve really felt a strong connection not only through the language of music with the Chinese, but also with the people on the tour who came from other parts of the country. I feel like I'm part of a unit," said Greve, the viola player.

The program for the tour is called European Travels and features classical French, Venetian and Czech Republic pieces in addition to American and Chinese works.

Musicians from the York Symphony Orchestra are touring in China and taking pictures of a plush Downtown, the York Revolution mascot, as they go. Here, he's at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Golan described the differences between the audiences in the U.S. and China.

"I've noticed that in the U.S. the audiences seem appreciative and clap, but here (in China) they clap after each piece a little lackluster, and then at the end they keep clapping because they like free stuff; they think encores are free," he said.

Culture: Aside from the group's musical responsibilities on the tour, the Yorkers are absorbing the Chinese culture every chance they get when they aren't traveling or performing. They explained that the food is much different from the American perception of Chinese food and consists primarily of chicken appendages, feet and necks, and is served in a family style.

"There aren't any fortune cookies, and eating the head and eyeballs of fish is considered a delicacy," said Reichman.

Greve commented on how China lacks much of the cleanliness and amenities we are used to in the U.S. Items such as soap, toilet paper and air conditioners aren't always readily available, she said.

According to the group, in comparison to New York City, the cities in China are at least twice as large and are heavily polluted and densely populated.

Musicians from the York Symphony Orchestra are shown after concert No. 3 at Handan Grand Theatre in Handan, China. The musicians are touring in China with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Everyone seems to be fascinated by Westerners here. I’ve never had so many strangers, people, come up to me and ask to take a picture," said Erenberg.

Throughout the tour, the group will continue to take pictures with a stuffed animal version of York Revolution's Downtown mascot. Updates about their tour can be found on social media under the hashtag #YorkersinChina.