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Prince raises curtain on UK's National Day Expo celebrations

A diverse and rich mix of events for the UK’s September 8 National Day Programme is under way at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

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HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York

The UK’s September 8 National Day Programme opened on 7th Sep with the China British Business Awards with HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York celebrating the contribution made to both economies by Chinese and British investors, and was followed by performances by, among others, the English National Ballet and a gala performance by the London Symphony Orchestra.

National Day is the highlight of the UK’s participation at Expo, and continues the theme of partnership which has run throughout the six months of the UK’s participation. The close partnership between the UK and China extend from business to the arts, and the centrepiece of the programme will be the world premiere of a ballet, created especially for UK National Day and performed by dancers from both the English National Ballet and the Shanghai Ballet.

The programme reflects the theme of the UK Pavilion “Building on the Past and Shaping our Future” combining both the UK’s cultural history with its modern dynamism.

Prince Andrew said: “This is a day to mark the strong and strengthening ties between the United Kingdom and China in many different areas including trade and investment, culture, science and innovation, sport, low carbon development and education.”

Heritage and tradition is reflected by the London Symphony Orchestra and a moving closing ceremony by the Royal Marines Band. Irish folk band Duke Special, street theatre, and an innovative art installation, Congregation, exhibit the UK’s modern edge.

Mirroring the diversity of the programme and partnership between the UK and China, the UK’s delegation is similarly broad. As well as the Duke the delegation includes Ambassador to China Sebastian Wood, the CEO of UKTI, British Council, senior military and leaders from across British business.

The UK Pavilion has already attracted over 5.5 million visitors, well above expectations. It has also won the prestigious RIBA Lubetkin award for an international architecture project. The UK’s unique approach to Expo, which has delivered much of the content of Expo through a programme of 300 business and cultural events, is also expected to bring a legacy of even closer partnership between the UK and China people across a huge cross section of society and the economy.


UK at Expo in partnership with China

The UK works in partnership with China across a broad range of areas from people to people exchanges in academia, science and culture, to government- government exchanges in financial services, the economy, and climate change. This is reflected the broad nature of the UK’s programme at Expo:

  • The Seed Cathedral is centred around a partnership. The amazing construction contains 10s of thousands of seeds Kunming Botanical Institute, a partner of the UK Kew Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank.
  • Business events: The UK has over 300 business and cultural events at Expo. And every activity involves a UK-China partnership. For example workshops in creative industries; brought together British and Chinese architects and advertisers. Creatives pent a day pooling their talents to produce a result which is more than the sum of their parts
  • National Day: The centrepiece of our national day programme is the world premiere of a ballet created especially for UK National Day at the World Expo 2010, but performed by dancers from both the English National Ballet and the Shanghai Ballet.

The National Day programme

The UK National Day programme includes:

  • British Business Awards
  • Flag raising ceremony
  • Speeches by VIPs, tours of the UK and Chinese pavilions
  • The world premiere of a ballet “The Weight of Love”, performed by dancers from English National Ballet and the Shanghai Ballet.
  • Swanning Around, a re-imagining of Swan Lake performed by students from schools across China and the UK. The performance will be the culmination of the international cultural exchange programme presented by English National Ballet, the Royal Albert Hall, WebPlay and the British Council.
  • A concert by London Symphony Orchestra
  • Reception at the UK Pavilion aimed directly at the Chinese business community
  • Closing is a performance by the Band of the Royal Marines at the Pavilion

Event details

  • British Business Awards: The Awards marked the start of our National Day: The British Business Awards are an awards programme organised by the British Chambers of Commerce in China to recognise and promote excellence in innovation, enterprise and endeavour, in the British business community in China. Through eight categories, the Awards showcase organisations and individuals who are achieving outstanding results and who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to Sino-British trade and investment relations in a variety of disciplines. This year, the Awards also recognise the excellent accomplishments of Chinese businesses operating in the UK.
  • London Symphony Orchestra: The gala concert opens the Rolls-Royce LSO 2010 China Tour which also takes in other venues in Shanghai and Beijing. The LSO is also engaging in educational activity with local conservatoires during their visit to China.
  • English National Ballet: The world premiere of The Weight of Love , created especially for UK National Day at the World Expo 2010, is performed by dancers from English National Ballet and the Shanghai Ballet, with music composed by Van Le Ngoc.
  • Swanning Around: Over 100 students from the UK and China will also take to the stage in Swanning Around?????? at the Expo Centre. Swanning Around is a re-imagining of Swan Lake choreographed by dance artists from English National Ballet, and is the culmination of a year-long education project developed by the ENB, the Royal Albert Hall and Webplay and supported by the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme.
  • Congregation: Outside the Expo Park, a light installation by media artists KMA will take place at the Rockbund Art Museum from 5 to 8 September. Congregation is the world’s first-ever ballet designed, choreographed and composed entirely for members of the public: the audience members become the performers and are invited to explore the environment at their own will, responding to the choreography of projected light and sound. After its world premiere at Rockbund Art Museum, Congregation will be presented at Tate Britain, London.
  • Duke Special. Llive music from Duke Special over three days at the UK Pavilion. Duke Special is a pianist, singer-songwriter and performer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has a romantic and theatrical style, a warm voice and a very distinctive look. He has supported acts such as Van Morrison and Snow Patrol, and in Shanghai is accompanied by a keyboard player, drummer, saxophonist, and bass player.
  • Resident Performers. The street performances brought by more than a dozen street performance companies create surprises to visitors wherever they go, and subtly to change the way people think about the open air environment. Everywhere can be a place for theatre. Never just expect the normal and the predictable.

The UK Pavilion concept

The open park represents the openness of our society, and the seed cathedral the tradition of creativity in the UK. Together they also have a deeper significance - in the UK we have a close connection between urban life and nature. We wanted to challenge visitors to consider the importance of nature, biodiversity in Better City, Better Life.

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Published 7 September 2010