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On the stage of Shanghai Oriental Art Center. We are so tiny!

The highlight of the spring for St Michel Strings was definitely our two week Asia tour. Originally we had planned to tour only in Korea, invited by JK artist management, but then another possibility opened for us in China. For me China was an exciting destination, since I had not visited it before. Just a few days before leaving to Asia things became even more exciting, since two of our players had to cancel the trip for medical reasons! Luckily I have a lot of contacts in Korea and we could find excellent local musicians to sub with us.

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Dress rehearsal at the Guro Art Valley in Seoul

In Korea we had three concerts with a full Sibelius program. The first one was in the very southern part of the country, in Geoje. The second one was in Seoul, in a small concert center called Guro Art Valley. There I was lucky to have many of my Seoulite friends in the audience, including Hyunsu Shin who was my soloist recently in Finland.

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Final concert of the Korea wing of the tour in Yongin

In Yongin we had our best success both artistically and with the public. Our excellent soloist for the Sibelius violin pieces was Hyuk Joo Kwun. We by the way had local Finns in attendance at all of our concerts, which was especially heart warming. Hopefully we will see again in Korea!

Soon after our last concert in Korea we hopped on the plane and flew to Dalian in northern China. In China classical music is hugely popular right now, but the general public is still getting used to going to concerts. There were a lot of children in our first concert and the public was changing seats during the show, taking photos and so on. But their enthusiasm was something we don't quite get in Finland anymore!

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Last venue of the tour, in Shaoxing

After Dalian we flew to Shanghai where we had a couple of field days before our concert at Shanghai Oriental Art Center. The hall was really huge (see the top photo), but luckily the acoustic was favorable to us, and the concert went really well. After the concert a friend of mine, Christopher Chen, who is now the dean of the conservatory in Suzhou invited us to a very fancy restaurant to enjoy spicy hot Sichuan cuisine.

The next day we took the bus to the city of Shaoxing for our last concert, and after one more field day there the orchestra packed their instruments and started their trip back home to Finland. I, on the other hand took a few more days off work and went to Japan to enjoy my dear hobby Aikido. If you are interested, you can take a look at my training blog where I wrote everything about that trip.

P.S. When the tour started I realized that we still don't have any info online about St Michel Strings in English. Thanks to Kathy Geisler from Well Tempered Productions we had a touring website up and running in no time. Check out her page at www.welltempered.com!