Eastman Philharmonia Tour to China postponed by school

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — “I do feel … a lot of tension right now,” says Eastman School of Music student Naomi Nakanishi.

“I have faith that they’ll make the right decision,” says student Alyssa Estrella.

Those were the feelings of Eastman pupils we spoke with as the school wrestled with the decision of what to do with a planned trip to China for the school’s Philharmonia.

China welcomed the group, but not the whole group. Three South Korean students had to stay behind for political reasons between the two nations. Since 2016, China has not welcomed South Korean artists. Originally, the school was going to proceed with the 12-day tour.

On Tuesday, Eastman’s Dean Jamal Rossi said they are going to postpone the trip. Students like Payton Dziekan support the decision.

“Obviously, this policy in China is very difficult and divisive. We want to stand together with our South Korean classmates,” she says.

“I think at this moment it’s important to come together and just represent what the Eastman community is supposed to be,” says Nakanishi.

“I feel like we need to support our students and everyone gets the same opportunities and participate in everything Eastman has to offer,” says Freshman Owen Cummings.

One student from China, who wants to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions from his home country, says often when governments disagree, it’s ordinary people who suffer. With that in mind, he’s hoping something can be worked out.

“I have such deep sympathy for my South Korean friends. For Eastman … I think it’s such a wonderful opportunity to bring music back to my own country,” says the Chinese student.


Full statement from Dean Jamal Rossi:

“I write with an update on the planned Eastman Philharmonia tour of China. I initially chose to proceed with this tour to preserve a transformative opportunity for eighty students. But even after I announced my decision last week, my colleagues and I continued to actively explore multiple avenues to obtain appropriate visas for every member of the ensemble. Ultimately, however, we were not successful.  Therefore, in consultation with many individuals, including University and Eastman leadership and our Chinese tour organizers, we have decided to postpone the tour until all members of the orchestra can participate.

I am grateful to the many individuals who took the time to share their thoughts about this matter. Regardless of individual positions, the overriding message for which we can all be grateful was a deep appreciation and respect for Eastman and a commitment to the standards and excellence that have marked our school for nearly 100 years.

For many years, Eastman musicians have performed in venues around the globe to a wide variety of audiences. It is my priority and personal commitment to continue to provide opportunities for Eastman students to share their music with the world. But I believe that given the particular circumstances of this tour, the best course of action for the Eastman community and the values we share is to wait until the Philharmonia can perform as one.”

Dean Jamal Rossi, Eastman School of Music

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