Thursday, April 7, 2022 | 8:30 PM EDT - 9:30 PM EDT
Zoom Webinar | Jie Chen, Jennifer Lin, Sheila Melvin, Booker Rowe
Beethoven in Beijing, a feature-length documentary, spotlights the explosive growth of classical music in China since the 1973 tour of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first American orchestra to perform in the People’s Republic. At the invitation of U.S. President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, the orchestra used music to help dismantle 25 years of isolation between the two countries. Today, China is energizing the world of classical music with legions of young musicians, glittering new concert halls, and a lineup of superstar performers and composers.
The National Committee hosted a virtual program on April 7, 2022 with Jie Chen, Jennifer Lin, Sheila Melvin, and Booker Rowe as they discussed their experiences in musical exchange to date and prospects for the future.
A graduate of Harvard, the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), and the Curtis Institute of Music, pianist Scarlett Jie Chen won eleven international musical prizes during a performing career that has included concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C., and the Louvre in Paris.
Ms. Chen was the founding dean of the music department at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, China’s first music department in a top-tier science and technology research university. She was also the first classical musician ever admitted to the mid-career Master’s in Public Administration program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. A keen believer in the imperative to bring China and the world closer through performing arts and philanthropic endeavours, Ms. Chen seeks to transcend boundaries and promote understanding through art.
Jennifer Lin is a journalist, author, and documentary filmmaker. She created and codirected the feature-length documentary, Beethoven in Beijing, which premiered in 2021. For 31 years, she was a reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer, posted to China, Wall Street, and Washington, D.C. Ms. Lin has written a history of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 1973 tour called Beethoven in Beijing: Stories from the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Historic Journey to China, which will be published by Temple University Press in May 2022. She is also the author of Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family, and co-author of Sole Sisters: Stories of Women and Running. Ms. Lin is a graduate of Duquesne University.
Sheila Melvin is a writer and consultant focusing on both culture and business. She and her husband, the conductor Jindong Cai, co-wrote Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese; Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People’s Republic; and The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra: Music Connecting Worlds. She is also the author of The Little Red Book of China Business. Ms. Melvin’s writing on the arts across Asia has been published widely, including in The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wilson Quarterly, and other publications. She is on the board of the Asia Society, Northern California. Ms. Melvin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (B.A.), and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (M.A.). She also studied at Fudan University in Shanghai.
Booker Rowe was a violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra for 50 years before his retirement in 2020. As a soloist, he performed concertos from the traditional repertoire, and premiered new works by African-American and other minority composers. As a chamber musician, Mr. Rowe played with the Nashville Symphony String Quartet, the Symphony of the New World String Quartet, the Huntingdon Trio, and the Society of Ancient Instruments of Philadelphia. Mr. Rowe has also enjoyed music on the lighter side, performing with Peter Nero and the Philadelphia Pops, Sammy Davis, Jr., Isaac Hayes, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, and Barbra Streisand. Mr. Rowe has won many awards, including the Igor Stravinsky Award, the Henry B. Cabot Award, the National Distinguished American Award, a City of Philadelphia Citation and the Camerata Award of Excellence. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University and Master of Music from Yale University.