Music and more in China and Japan.

Special Interest Group

There’s really no doubt that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of the world’s best. So when the CSO travels, R. Crusoe was delighted to create tours for the orchestra patrons.

     Over the years, CSO staff members have thanked R. Crusoe for consistently providing patrons with extraordinary travel experiences that are the perfect blend of unique group travel and interaction with our musicians. The relationships that have developed between patrons and musicians are special—and something that wouldn’t have happened without these shared travel experiences.

     On one tour to Asia, the focus was on the kaleidoscopic mix of ancient and modern. One lens was the architecture of yesterday and today. 

     In Tokyo, a new generation of architects has risen to the fore. Among them is Kengo Kuma, designer of the Suntory Museum. Mr. Kuma gave us a private tour of the museum itself.

     Azby Brown, author and professor of architecture in Kanazawa, kept the discussion going with a visit through intriguing Tokyo neighborhoods and a private home.

     There was a specially arranged visit to a significant Shinto shrine. Local delicacies to taste. And a party with the musicians.

     On to China. In Hong Kong, the patrons partied with the musicians in view of the city’s grand harbor.

     The next day, as the CSO tuned up, the patrons had lunch at the China Club.

     Between the Hong Kong concert and the next CSO performance (in Shanghai), R. Crusoe planned a wonderful foray for the patrons into Yunnan province, China’s most culturally diverse region. In lovely, 800-year-old Lijiang, we saw one of the largest collections of traditional Chinese architecture still standing.

     “The highlight for me was Lijiang,” says CSO patron Celine Bendy. “Staying at the Banyan Tree Hotel under a full moon, soaking in the Jacuzzi in my villa, visiting the Old Town, seeing the Naxi master’s calligraphy demonstration...”

     Fellow patron Shelley Ochab agrees: “When we arrived in the beautiful city of Lijiang, we understood at once why it was not to be missed.”

     Before leaving town, we heard a brief concert of authentic music from the Song Dynasty. And we attended a phenomenal culture show, “Impressions Lijiang”.

    Then to Shanghai, whose modern architecture has set new standards. One example? The Shanghai World Financial Center, among the tallest buildings on Earth, and designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. Over lunch, we met with a KPF principal to hear the inside story on the building’s evolution.

    In Beijing, the CSO performed in the “Silver Egg.” (Remember it from the Olympics?) The concert was sensational.

     We entered a closed-to-the-public prince’s residence in the Forbidden City.

     “Everything along the way was star-studded,” the late patron Jan Jentes said, “but best of all was the walk among the terracotta warriors. Wow!”

     “No one does a better trip,” Jan’s husband, Bill, added.

     Patron Phyllis Bleck concurred. “A trip of a lifetime. A spectacular tour.”

     Honestly, we thought so, too.



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