School Students Take in Chinese Orchestra Performance
More than 600 students from schools all over the county got a preview performance of Friday night’s symphony concert. They came to Lee Auditorium at Pinecrest High School to hear Chinese artists from both the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra and the China National Orchestra.
He Jianguo, permanent conductor of the Chinese orchestra, conducted performers playing both Western instruments like violins and violas and traditional Chinese instruments most of the students were hearing and seeing for the first time.
Ties between Moore County and China’s Hunan Province were forged in World War II when 2nd Lt. Robert Hoyle Upchurch – a Flying Tiger pilot from High Falls – lost his life in aerial combat helping China fight the Japanese invasion.
At Friday’s concert, a WUNC-produced video was shown to the overflow audience. It told how Upchurch had vanished into fog-shrouded mountains following a combat mission and was – for decades – listed as missing and presumed dead. In China, people from Guidong City had retrieved the remains of an American pilot from his bullet-riddled P-40 fighter. They buried their unknown hero with full honors, and for 63 years brought flowers to the side of Santai Mountain where they’d laid him to rest below a Ming Dynasty tower.
DNA identified Upchurch and he was brought home to the family plot in 2006. The next year then state Sen. Harris Blake led a delegation back to Guidong for the dedication of a memorial park dedicated to the Flying Tiger of Guidong. Moore and Guidong counties signed sister-county agreements. Similar agreements linked Pinehurst and Robbins with towns in China. Last year the governors of Hunan and North Carolina signed sister state papers.
An organization dedicated to building cultural, educational and business links – the Carolina China Council – grew from these events. Blake and Dr. Lian Xie of N.C. State organized the council which made this visit of the China National Orchestra possible.
Following the midday performance for students, the conductor and artists joined Xie and Blake for a late lunch with Leon Zhang in Carthage at his Flying Tiger Chinese Restaurant where they viewed photographs of the 2007 Guidong dedication and pictures of other Flying Tiger pilots and their P-40 aircraft.
“We are bringing together bigger events than we had thought before,” Blake said. “The China Council is responsible for them. I just left the auditorium where we had 600 children from all over the county. Each one of these people brought special instruments. One plays an instrument that looks like an organ – with bamboo pipes – and I am overwhelmed. Tonight there will be about 70 people on stage with the people from China and Raleigh performing together.”
Blake praised the superintendent of Moore County Schools and the Arts Council’s Chris Dunn for their work making this possible.
“The Arts Council board is to be commended for taking on the project,” Blake said. “And – can you believe it? – 15 people are coming from High Falls for the concert.”
More like this story