To bring this little French tour to fruition has involved a lot of work. A long chain of people has made it possible, from the Cini people in Venice (2012) and Thomas Roetting in Leipzig (2013) to Adeline Herrou and Hélène Bloch at Nanterre, the brilliant Yan Lu of the Nanterre Confucius Institute, Kersten Zhang our able fixer in Beijing, the Clermont-Ferrand CI team, Nicolas Prevot, the Centre Mandapa, and Li Bin in Yanggao.
Indeed, the roots of our tours, and my whole project on the Li family, go right back to Chen Kexiu’s early research and the 1990 trip to Beijing led by Li Qing.
Again, with the Li band we riff on “Without the Communist Party there would be no new China”:
(me:) Without Chen Kexiu there would be no Steve-and-the-Li-band
(Li Bin:) Without Steve there would be no Li band tours
(me:) Without the Li band there would be no Steve
As I observed (my book, p.339):
The audiences go wild, their faces rapt; I love the feeling of turning on audiences to this music that has enchanted me for so many years. Our hosts always latch onto how very special this tour is.
Yan Lu prepared one of the most detailed schedules I’ve ever had in four decades of orchestral touring. And I love it when we’ve done all possible preparation, and then just naturally come together in haste, improvising to make the little details work, carried along on a wave of enthusiasm.
The Daoists fit into it all and always put on an amazing show night after night, so that we and everyone, dazzled by their brilliance, see that it’s all been worthwhile.
Still, all this is merely an occasional interlude for them: their daily “rice-bowl” remains performing rituals for their local community in the Yanggao countryside.