With just a week to go before we arrive in China, final preparations are being made at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. We’re excited to be visiting our Principal Guest Conductor Xian Zhang’s home country, where she will lead five concerts from 15 -21 December in four major cities: Beijing, Changsha, Wuhan and Shenzhen.

This visit marks the first time Xian has toured her home country with a European symphony orchestra, and having completed her musical studies in China she is keen to bring musicians from both countries together through these performances. The orchestra are joined by Chinese harpist Shimeng Sun, who graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in 2018, who performs Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto alongside BBC NOW’s Principal Flute Matthew Featherstone for three of our concert dates. The orchestra also welcomes another Chinese guest soloist, cellist Jiapeng Nie, to perform Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations at our second concert in Beijing.

The tour is a result of the first Welsh cultural delegation visit to China in early 2017, and is supported by Arts Council of Wales, British Council in China and Wales Arts International.

During the tour, the orchestra will also perform together with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, and musicians from BBC NOW will provide music tuition to pupils at Sufei Art Education in Shenzhen. This activity forms part of a Memorandum of Understanding that exists between Wales and China, which focusses on Cultural Collaboration, Best Practice Exchange and Talent Development. The tour is the final part of British Council’s Inspiring Women in the Arts, a year-long campaign showcasing the work of female artists to inspire young Chinese generations.

Hear our first performance in Beijing broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Wednesday the 19 December here and you can find out how we’re getting on, by tuning into the BBC Radio Wales Arts Show on 21 December here.

Don’t forget – you can also see BBC National Chorus of Wales perform in BBC Wales: Carols for Christmas at St David’s Hall on the 16 December, which is also broadcast on BBC Radio Wales on Christmas Eve at 11pm and Christmas Day at 2pm.


"The Orchestra is a superb ambassador for wales, and are a key partner in the work we are doing to maintain and extend our cultural engagement overseas. Their tour will do a great deal to heighten awareness of Wales and I wish them well

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas

Minister for Culture, Tourism, and Sport