Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra undertakes its first UK tour

Since its founding in 1957, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra has become one of the ‘shining stars’ among China’s increasingly distinguished orchestras. It is the only Chinese symphony orchestra to have toured and performed on five continents and one of the first Chinese orchestras to establish a full concert season at home: over the past twenty years it has steadily built a strong following, transforming the cultural life of the city, and is now attracting large and enthusiastic audiences for its wide-ranging performances at its home, the Xinghai Concert Hall on the banks of the Pearl River.

The GSO’s first UK tour, part of its fifteenth international tour, celebrates both the orchestra’s sixtieth anniversary and the 45th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the UK and China, symbolising the ever-strengthening ties between the two nations.

The tour is led by the GSO’s Music Director Long Yu, credited for transforming the development of classical music in China. Remarkably, Mr. Yu directs all three of China’s leading orchestras, including the China Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony as well as the GSO. He is also the founder and president of the highly-regarded Beijing Music Festival and one of the world’s busiest conductors, renowned for his high standards; energetic musicianship; rigorous selection of the best players; and disciplined rehearsal style. Long Yu is also celebrated for his extraordinary leadership skills, political acumen and consummate fund-raising abilities, which together with his artistic talents, have made him one of the most influential and powerful musicians working in China and abroad.

In London and Birmingham Long Yu conducts the GSO in music which brings together East and West with UK premieres of two works commissioned by the Orchestra from two leading contemporary Chinese composers alongside iconic works by Britten and Stravinsky. In Manchester, the same programme is conducted by Jing Huan, who has been the Resident Conductor of the orchestra since 2013 after making her critically-acclaimed debut leading the ensemble alongside soloist Maxim Vengerov. The soloists include Shanghai-born international cellist Jian Wang and Lei Jia on sheng, the traditional bamboo woodwind instrument.

A particular highlight of the programme is the atmospheric and melodic Duo for cello, sheng and orchestra, originally composed for Yo-Yo Ma and Wu Tong by renowned film composer Zhao Lin. Zhao Lin’s contemplative concerto tracks his subject’s physical and spiritual relationship to his surroundings, with the cellist as melodic human protagonist and the sheng’s ornamental presence representing the divine. Ye Xiaogang’s Guangdong Music Suite, also commissioned by the GSO, is inspired by the musical culture of the Pearl River delta and its environs which is home to the orchestra. The programme is completed by Britten’s Four Sea Interludes and Stravinsky’s The Firebird suite in the 1919 version.

The preeminent Chinese conductor with an established international reputation, Long Yu continues his 15th season tenure as Music Director of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra in the 2016/2017 season. He also serves as Artistic Director of the Beijing Music Festival, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the China Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Co-Director of the MISA Shanghai Summer Festival, and serves as the principal guest conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra starting from 2015/16 season.

Long Yu’s career has included both artistic and administrative appointments. In 1992, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Central Opera Theatre in Beijing and involved in the planning of the Chinese New Year’s Concert series later that year and served as its conductor for three consecutive years. He created opera productions for The Urban Council of Hong Kong for five successive years. In 1998, he led the creation of the Beijing Music Festival and has been its Artistic Director ever since. Under his leadership the Beijing Music Festival is regarded as one of the world’s most important music festivals. In 2010, he also established the MISA Shanghai Summer Music Festival and serves as its Artistic Director.

Born in 1964 into a music family in Shanghai, Long Yu received his early musical education from his grandfather Ding Shande, a composer of great renown, and went on to study at the Shanghai Conservatory and the Hochschule der Kunst in Berlin. He was the recipient of the 2002 Arts Patronage Award of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation. He also has been awarded the Chevalier dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2003, the title of L’onorificenza di commendatore by President Berlusconi in 2005 for his outstanding contribution in the field of music and culture. In 2010, Long Yu received an Honorary Academician from the Central Conservatory of Beijing for his great dedication on cultural exchanging and music development in China. In December 2010, he was awarded People of the Year in Arts Field in China. In 2013, Long Yu was awarded the national level arts award China Arts Award. In December 2014, he was awarded France’s highest honor of merit by receiving Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur from the France government. In 2015, Long Yu was awarded the honorable title “National Literature and Art Worker of Excellence”. In the same year, he received the prestigious Global Citizen Award from the Atlantic Council and the Samuel Simons Sanford Award from Yale’s School of Music in America. In April 2016, Long Yu was elected as Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In June, he was just awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Long Yu is currently Vice-president of Chinese Musicians Association, member of the 11th and 12th the National Committee of the Chinese People’s