Buffalo Rome China Tour 2014 Retrospective
From Nashville to China, East meets West in the Concert Hall
During their 2014 China Tour, the Country stars from Nashville Buffalo Rome came to Guangzhou and Beijing to combine their unique harmonies and country tunes with the timeless sound of some of the best orchestras in China. This May they performed with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and the China Philharmonic under the guidance of maestro Long Yu, continuing a cooperation they struck in 2012 when working with the Shanghai Symphony for Shanghai's MISA festival.
The experiences all three members of Buffalo Rome made during this year's tour were nothing but positive. After the performances, Michael Visconti, Kevin Douglas and Mark Schaffel had nothing but praise for the world-class musicians of the orchestras, Long Yu and their Chinese audiences. Having played with the Shanghai Symphony before, Buffalo Rome knew the musical land mines inherent with combining a pop/country band and a large orchestra. Therefore, during this go round in Guangzhou and Beijing, the musicians knew what to expect and how to deal with the challenges: "We weren't as nervous [as the first time in Shanghai]. But it was still incredibly exciting to hear the first notes of the orchestra. All of the players are so talented and we felt so lucky to be playing with them", mentioned Michael Visconti after the band's first rehearsal in Guangzhou.
On the night of May 22nd, Buffalo Rome and the Guangzhou Symphony were ready to take China's South by storm. In retrospect, Kevin Douglas, guitarist and singer, said: "The rush of adrenaline you feel as you take the stage never gets old. The crowd was absolutely fantastic and their energy fueled the performance! It was so much fun hearing the crowd's reaction to "The Paradise", a song that Mike sings in Mandarin. That song is so beautiful that I think any audience, regardless of culture, could feel what that song is about."
Guangzhou baffled the band with its unique contemporary architecture, passionate audience and delicious Guangdong food. From here Buffalo Rome went straight to Beijing to play with the China Philharmonic on its 14th anniversary gala on May 25th, again conducted by Long Yu. After great rehearsals, the band was faced with the challenge of performing with the finest musicians of the middle kingdom. As pianist and vocalist Mark Schaffel stated from a musical perspective: "The biggest challenge for myself was not only performing my piano parts and singing harmonies but also keeping a watchful eye on Maestro Yu's baton without losing focus on the audience for whom we were performing."
Kevin Douglas retrospect of the concert has nothing but praise: "It felt great singing "Rhinestone Cowboy" and hearing the beautiful tapestries of the orchestra behind us! Yu Long navigated the musical waters masterfully, and any fears or nervousness I was feeling gave way to pure joy. There were so many magical moments, but the one that stood out to me was the first chorus of "Sweet Baby James". I felt like I was at the summit of Everest, overcome with a sense of awe and humility. It was also a blast seeing the crowd and the other players getting into "Country Roads"! Yu Long was exploding with emotion, wielding his baton like a sorcerer with lightning! The crowd really seemed to love it and it felt great to make a musical connection with them."
"The performance was amazing. It might've been the best ever. It was the birthday celebration of the China Philharmonic Orchestra and we got to sing happy birthday to them at the end. We started out with the typical birthday song family went into the Beatles so they say it's your birthday and they loved it. Long Yu was jumping around and was having so much fun! The audience enjoyed it as well. We did three encores!' Michael Visconti added. In retrospect and after a very successful concert with the China Philharmonic, Mark Schaffel found befitting words to sum up the tour: "Maestro Yu is an awesome guy. He welcomed us with open arms, was always willing to accept input. Our arranger in Nashville, Carl Marsh, did a hell of a job bringing our idea for the program to life and combining the Aaron Copland pieces with our own interpretation of the pop country tunes into a greater whole. If anyone deserves credit for the tour's success, he does."
"Looking back, it was really an amazing trip and musical journey. I love the fact that music is a bridge that unites people and allows the sharing of the human experience. I really hope we get an opportunity to come back and share in some more musical memories!" Kevin Douglas added.
For Buffalo Rome, their tour through Guangzhou and Beijing was a full success. The band got to play with some of the best musical talents in the East while immersing themselves in the contrast of China's millennia old and contemporary cultures in between concerts. They feel nothing but respect and love for their fellow Chinese musicians and local audience and are definitely planning to come back – by the end of next year with a new program and many more Chinese songs.
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