Phila. Orchestra to perform at Shanghai Expo

SHANGHAI, China (AP) - September 8, 2009 An agreement signed Tuesday calls for the orchestra to perform on May 7 at the Expo Performance Center, which is now under construction and will seat 18,000 when completed.

The Philadelphia Orchestra became the first U.S. orchestra to perform in modern mainland China, at President Richard Nixon's request, in 1973 as the U.S. and China worked to re-establish bilateral ties. It has since performed in China four times, including a gala concert in Beijing in 2008.

"This occasion marks another step in the U.S.'s commitment to the Expo," Shanghai U.S. Consul General Beatrice Camp said in a statement.

Organizers say they expect 70 million people to attend the Expo, which is under construction along the banks of the city's Huangpu River.

Some 241 countries, regions and organizations plan to stage exhibits, though American organizers struggled to raise private sector funds for the USA pavilion, which is now under construction.

The Philadelphia Orchestra, founded in 1900, is led by conductor Charles Dutoit.

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