An encounter with a three-year-old in front of Beijing’s famous ‘Egg’ gave the Tianjin-born musician pause.

I was born in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, about 100km from Beijing, so the opportunity to go on tour to China with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra filled me with a special excitement. Although my family moved to Melbourne when I was 10, Mum couldn’t miss the chance to see me play at our home country’s most prestigious venue, so this September she also hopped on a plane to Beijing to watch the SSO and Chief Conductor David Robertson perform at ‘the Egg’.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra Horn Fellow Alice Yang. Photo © Daniela Testa

Ahead of what would be the final performance on our week-long tour of Shanghai and Beijing, I decided to venture beyond stage door to meet my mum between rehearsal and concert. Just as I had spotted her, I was interrupted by a little girl of about three playing between the hedges. She was instantly drawn to my strange blue case and her mother asked me what was in it.

When I produced my French Horn and attached the bell...