In a first, Philadelphia Orchestra to play Mongolia

In a first, Philadelphia Orchestra to play Mongolia

Washington (AFP) - The Philadelphia Orchestra announced it will travel to Mongolia for concerts and cultural exchanges in a first for a Western classical ensemble.

The two sides signed an agreement at a ceremony in the US Capitol in Washington that included the first ever musical performances played in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee room, the orchestra said.

The orchestra will put on two full concerts in mid-2017 in the capital Ulan Bator and design a series of community activities.

Allison Vulgamore, the orchestra's president and CEO, said in a statement that its musicians were looking forward to "sharing person-to-person the common language of music in schools, hospitals and with our fellow Mongolian musicians."

Mongolia's ambassador, Bulgaa Altangerel, said his country hoped to pursue its own cultural exchanges in the United States.

Sandwiched between Russia and China, the land of Genghis Khan has actively built relations with the United States and other major countries in recent years as the young democracy seeks to guarantee its long-term sovereignty.

The Philadelphia Orchestra, considered one of the "big five" US orchestras, has long been active on the international stage.

In 1973, it became the first US orchestra to play China on the heels of Richard Nixon's historic visit and later was the first US orchestra in Vietnam.

Led by star Canadian conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the Philadelphia Orchestra also plans other stops in Asia next year but has not announced the locations.