Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra

  • History

    Since its founding in 1957, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra (GSO) has developed into one of China’s most artistically superb and vibrant orchestral institutions. It is the first and only Chinese symphony orchestra to have toured and performed on five continents, receiving acclaim as “one of China’s most prestigious music ensembles” (China Daily) and “China’s nexus of musical tradition and innovation” (Financial Times of London).

  • Music Director

    In September 2023, Huang Yi becomes GSO’s third Music Director, succeeding Long Yu, Chairman of the China Musicians Association’s League of China Orchestras, who was hailed by the New York Times as “the most powerful figure in China’s Western classical music scene.” In recognition of Yu at the helm of the GSO for two brilliant decades (2003–2023), the GSO bestowed the title of “Honorary Music Director for Life” to him as he continues to chair its artistic committee.

  • Milestones

    The GSO is also one of the first orchestras in China to institute a professional concert season, and 2023/2024 marks its 27th season. The GSO has sustained long-term relationships with numerous renowned musicians at home and abroad, establishing a wide international network among the world’s music circles. In past seasons, the GSO has regularly invited the most accomplished conductors, soloists and singers to collaborate in repertoire ranging from Baroque to modern, creating valuable training opportunities for the orchestra’s musicians to improve their craft and for the orchestra to garner recognition. “It was the best sound I ever heard from among Chinese orchestras,” the late Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki once remarked after attending a GSO concert.

  • World Tours

    Beginning in 2000, the GSO was sent on numerous tours by the Ministry of Culture and the Guangdong Provincial Government, performing at internationally renowned venues all over the world. In 2006, the GSO was invited to perform in both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. The orchestra has also appeared more than 20 times at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Macao Arts Festival and Macao International Music Festival. In October 2012, the GSO made its Taiwan debut. In 2017, the GSO made its sixth European tour, visiting London, Manchester and Birmingham on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United Kingdom, where it was headlined in The Guardian as a “highly accomplished band.” In January 2019, the GSO was invited to take part in the “Winter in Tantora” Festival, becoming the first Chinese orchestra to perform in Saudi Arabia. Later that month, the GSO embarked on its seventh European tour. The orchestra not only fulfills its role as cultural ambassador abroad, but also promotes meaningful exchange within the Pearl River Delta region and across the Taiwan Straits.

  • Diversified Development

    The GSO has also diversified its mission and programs in the past decade. Between 2005 and 2007, the orchestra organized the Canton International Summer Music Academy with Maestro Charles Dutoit as music director. The GSO hosted the Canton Asian Music Festival, held at the Xinghai Concert Hall, in November 2010 on the occasion of the 16th Asian Games. The GSO has also collaborated with the world’s leading ballet and opera companies, appearing both in the pit and in concert renditions. The orchestra regularly commissions new works from prominent composers in China and abroad, fostering China’s development in symphonic music. In December 2011, the GSO established its affiliate youth orchestra, later renamed the Guangzhou Symphony Youth Orchestra (August 2016), the first amateur youth orchestra administered by a professional orchestra in China. Since 2017, the GSO has organized its annual Youth Music Culture Guangdong, renamed in 2023 Youth Music Culture the Greater Bay Area, with Long Yu serving as chair of its artistic committee. At its inauguration in January 2017, YMCG immediately garnered acclaim for “opening a new page in the Chinese symphonic world.” In 2023, it received the China Music Arts Promotion Award. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma served as YMCG Music Director for five years (2017-2022), with renowned conductor Daniel Harding taking over that role as the current Music Director.