Feature: Veteran U.S. musician cherishes lasting bond with China

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NEW YORK, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Davyd Booth, a violinist and second keyboard player with The Philadelphia Orchestra, has set a record that few other U.S. musicians can compete with.

His interaction with the Chinese counterparts can date back to nearly half a century ago. For a span of the past 46 years, Booth has toured China for 12 times.

More than two months after the 69-year-old finished the latest visit to China with his orchestra, the thrill never waned.

"China has started what has turned out to be one of the largest international piano competitions, and we played the final concert with the finalists. It was really very exciting," Booth expounded with Xinhua the impressive moments during the trip.

The veteran musician said he appreciated to have been invited to the joint performance, adding that such kind of collaboration is crucial to people-to-people connection between the United States and China.

"It just cemented even further the really very important and wonderful relationship that The Philadelphia Orchestra has with China," said Booth.

Founded in 1900, The Philadelphia Orchestra is renowned for a long and distinguished history of touring the world. The orchestra's lasting ties with China mark a significant chapter in its century-old history.

In 1973, at the invitation by then U.S. President Richard Nixon, it became the first American orchestra to visit the People's Republic of China -- a trip considered a key part of Washington's rapprochement with Beijing in the 1970s.

Since then, The Philadelphia Orchestra's cooperation with the Chinese counterparts has been flourishing.

This May, it wrapped up its 12th tour to China, which was also aimed at marking the four-decade milestone in U.S.-China diplomatic relations.

Booth, one of only four members of the 1973 trip who remain in the orchestra, said he was glad that "the musical world between the United States and China has become more and more strongly united," and he expects both sides to forge ahead the ties.

After so many years of interactions with Chinese counterparts and audience, "now China has literally become part of us."

The experienced violinist, who has developed a strong interest in Chinese culture since early childhood, said he felt honored to have taken part in the historic visit some 46 years ago.

"It's one of the most important, most incredible experiences of my life, and it still remains that way," he said, adding it was "an incredible amount of good luck," as he was still a freshman at the orchestra and had the opportunity to participate in the remarkable cultural mission to China.

While the 1973 trip was significant "on several different levels: historically, musically and diplomatically," Booth said, for him, it was also "two weeks of discovery" about the time-honored Asian country.

"I still have this sense of awe and wonder when I go there, walk down the small alleys and see the buildings and temples that can trace back to thousands of years," said the longtime fan of Chinese history and culture.

The veteran U.S. musician was marveled at the progress China has made over the past decades, noting that the dynamic economy coupled with its profound culture has helped enhance his curiosity about the nation.

"I've never seen a country build itself up so quickly and so impressively. No matter how many times you go back, there are always new things to discover," said Booth. Enditem

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