Efforts Under Way to Bring China National Orchestra to Moore
The Arts Council of Moore County is seeking sponsors to bring the China National Orchestra to the R.E. Lee Auditorium at Pinecrest High School for a joint concert in February with the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra.
“It’s an exchange of culture between East and West, which is unique on the stage,” said Chris Dunn, executive director of the Arts Council. “The China National Orchestra has performed in every major concert hall in the world. It’s akin to the New York Philharmonic coming here.”
Dunn said the Arts Council needs to raise $16,250 by the end of the year to secure the concert. The total includes $5,000 to the Arts Council for its staff time, promotion and organization of the event.
“The cost is considerably lower than it normally would be for a group of this caliber and size,” he said. “We just can’t afford to do another program that’s not in our budget.”
The China National Orchestra, which was founded in Beijing in 1960, is the largest and most integral national music orchestra in China.
Dunn said the concert would bring a combination of Eastern and Western instruments together, with each orchestra performing its own music and the two combining to play other pieces.
“People will be amazed at what they see on stage,” Dunn said. “I love the idea, but I’d like to have more time to prepare.”
Dunn has asked the towns of Southern Pines and Aberdeen, the village of Pinehurst and Moore County commissioners for $2,500 apiece.
“We’re also seeking individual and corporate sponsors,” he said. “We want this to be a free concert. We’ll have to charge a nominal fee for tickets if we don’t raise the entire amount.
“We definitely want a full house, and I would love to have a lot of kids there.”
Potential sponsors can contact Dunn at (910) 692-2785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pinehurst Village Manager Andy Wilkison said the Village Council has already agreed to sponsor the event.
“We think it’s an appropriate use of taxpayer money to support this event because we have felt for a long time that the cultural arts are an important part of our community, not just in Pinehurst but the whole county,” Wilkison said Friday. “We support the Palustris Festival every year and see this as an extension of that type of support.”
Dunn’s request received a lukewarm response from the Southern Pines Town Council at its monthly agenda meeting Wednesday.
“It concerns me to spend tax dollars that don’t directly benefit the community,” council member Mike Fields said. “I would feel better if I knew the other three governmental entities were on board.”
Council member Jim Simeon called the request “very reasonable.”
“I think it would be appropriate for us to join in a collaborative effort with the Arts Council and the other communities in Moore County,” Simeon said. “But we do need the other communities to be involved.”
Aberdeen Town Manager Bill Zell said he planned to add the request to the agenda for Monday’s monthly Town Council meeting.
Nick Picerno, who was elected last week to his third term as chairman of the county commissioners, said Friday that he had not seen the request.
Dunn said he learned about the “unique opportunity” last month from state Sen. Harris Blake, who asked the Arts Council to help make it happen.
“I’m convinced we can raise the money because Chris has a great ability to bring people together,” said Blake, who decided not to seek re-election after a decade in the Senate.
Blake said Dr. Lian Xie, of the Carolina China Council, told him earlier this year that the orchestra was coming to North Carolina for a similar concert Feb. 17 at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh.
“So I asked Dr. Xie if he could convince them to come to Moore County,” Blake said.
He added that the concert in Moore County, which is scheduled for Feb. 15, is an extension of the relationship North Carolina and Hunan Province in China established in 2007 when Blake and a delegation traveled overseas to bring back the remains of Robert Hoyle Upchurch, a High Falls native and World War II pilot shot down while fighting the Japanese.
“It goes back to the pilot and timing,” Blake said. “I had no idea where this would go back then, but it’s been a great journey. It’s been unreal what we have accomplished.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 692-2474 or tnatt@the
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