Wuliangye announced as Philharmonia Orchestra's new Principal International Partner
The Philharmonia Orchestra has announced a major new sponsorship with the premium
Chinese Baijiu producer Wuliangye.
The partnership, which will initially run for a period of
five years, will be worth more than £500,000.00 and is the first of its kind, bringing together one
of China's premier brands with one of the UK's cultural leaders.
The signing took place at 10 Downing Street as part of a Chinese New Year reception hosted by the
Prime Minister. The deal was signed in the presence of the Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey,
with the Chairman of Wuliangye, and three senior executives.
Sajid Javid, Secretary of
State for Culture, also joined the signing for photographs ahead of his visit to China next
week with HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
Wuliangye is named as the Orchestra's Principal International Partner, and an extensive
programme of cultural ambassadorship and artistic collaborations will take place as part of
the partnership, both across the UK, in China and within the Philharmonia's wider
international touring programme.
Over the course of the last twelve months, the Philharmonia and Wuliangye have been
working together to develop a mutually beneficial partnership that can act as a genuine
catalyst for the projects that both organisations are most interested in.
The result, says the orchestra, is a
unique and innovative funding model, which, as well as including an element of cash donation, will
see Wuliangye donating a percentage of the profits from a new premium Baijiu brand,
developed and produced from the company's headquarters in Yibin, Sichuan Province,
through a newly created charitable foundation.
At an artistic level, it is intended that the partnership will stimulate further cooperation
between China and the UK, and in particular it is intended that it will be the catalyst for a
number of significant projects for the Philharmonia Orchestra during the UK-China 2015
Year of Culture.
These projects include a major tour to China in June 2015, with concerts in
Shanghai and Beijing, and including PO musicians working with students from the China
Conservatory of Music. Later in 2015, a highlight of the Philharmonia's 70th Anniversary season will be a three-concert residency from Lang Lang, performing with Esa-Pekka
Salonen, the orchestra's Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor.
In common with many of the UK's leading cultural ambassadors, the Philharmonia
Orchestra has been developing its presence in China extensively over the last decade:
touring not only its major concert-hall project, but also key projects from its pioneering
and award-winning digital programme.
Three successful concert tours have included
performances of Mahler with the late Maestro Lorin Maazel; and in 2012 the Orchestra's
award-winning digital installation RE-RITE: Be the Orchestra, presented with support from
the British Council, was visited by more than 85,000 people in Tianjin in less than two
weeks. The Philharmonia's app for iPad, The Orchestra, has recently been translated into
Mandarin and as part of the Wuliangye partnership the orchestra plans to develop this
technology further to meet the huge demand in China for western classical music.
Education work and mutually beneficial cultural exchange is also a key priority for both the
Philharmonia and Wuliangye. In 2014, the Philharmonia developed a relationship with the
China Conservatory of Music in Beijing - the pre-eminent conservatoire for traditional
Chinese instruments - performing a joint concert with the Bamboo Flute Orchestra, led by
the inspirational Professor Zhang.
The orchestra's musicians say they have found it fascinating to
learn from Chinese colleagues, and it is intended that the International Partnership will
facilitate a number of future projects designed to deepen this cultural exchange.
David Whelton, Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra, commented:
"This is a truly historic collaboration and it is an enormous privilege to be working with a
company that has combines real cultural leadership with a genuinely innovative approach to
both funding and partnership itself. We are enormously excited by the potential that this
relationship offers for both the Philharmonia and Wuliangye and hope that it can create a
blueprint for cultural cooperation that can inspire other Chinese companies to work in similar
Mr. Liu Zhongguo, Chairman of Wuliangye, commented: "This historic collaboration will integrate one of China's premier beverage brands with
classical Western music and we hope the sponsorship will inspire people to enjoy the
harmonious balance of drinking fabulous alcohol while listening to world-class classical
music. We look forward to strengthening the understanding and recognition between Eastern
and Western culture for both the Chinese and British, and the great revitalization of the arts
that this will bring".
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, commented:
"Culture is one of the UK's great international exports and every year hundreds of thousands
of people around the world experience extraordinary arts events that have been created by
British theatre, dance, opera companies and orchestras.
"2015 marks the first UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange and cultural cooperation between
the UK and China has never been stronger. It is inspiring to see this new and enlightened partnership between the Philharmonia Orchestra and Wuliangye, which not only offers so
much to both organisations, but also offers a model for future relationships with other partners
in both countries".