Sat, Oct 13, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Islands dispute threatens NSO tour

OUT OF TUNE:China has declined granting tour visas to three Japanese members of the National Symphony Orchestra as a result of tensions over the Diaoyutais

Staff writer, with CNA

The battle between China and Japan over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) may stymie music exchanges across the Taiwan Strait as Chinese authorities have declined to grant visas to three Japanese musicians in the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), local media reported.

The orchestra is scheduled to launch a “music bold journey” next month that will take it to several major Asian cities, including Shanghai, Wuxi, Beijing and Tokyo, on its first large-scale overseas tour.

The orchestra began preparations for the tour early last month. Performances in Shanghai and Wuxi were approved smoothly, but the event in Beijing hit a snag, reports said.

When Chinese authorities were screening the NSO’s Beijing performance plan, the China-Japan tussle over the Diaoyutais flared up.

Against that backdrop, Beijing authorities told the NSO management that China has indefinitely suspended issuing working and performance visas to Japanese passport holders, the reports said.

Among the 90-plus NSO members, three are Japanese — the assistant principal flutist, principal tuba player and a French horn player, according to NSO chief executive Joyce Chiou (邱瑗).

“It would be very difficult to find replacements if the trio are denied Chinese visas,” Chiou said.

Chiou said the NSO is trying to communicate with Beijing authorities with the hope that they would agree to grant visas to the orchestra’s Japanese members.

In an effort to reach out to the world, NSO music director and conductor Lu Shao-chia (呂紹嘉) has decided to lead the orchestra on overseas performance tours.

The upcoming tour is the orchestra’s first large-scale Northeast Asian performance tour since its inauguration in 1986. The orchestra took part in a music festival in Tokyo in 2008 and an Asian music festival in Guangzhou in 2010. It is planning a similar tour of Europe next year.

The Diaoyutais have been under Japan’s control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

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