“Long Yu, China’s Herbert von Karajan, (is) the most powerful figure in China’s classical music scene.” — The New York Times

Hailed as the “most powerful figure in China’s classical music scene” by The New York Times, Long Yu took the reins as Music Director of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra in May 2003. However, Maestro Yu’s first conducted the GSO in November 1994, thus the 2019/2020 season marks the 25th anniversary of their collaboration. Long Yu also holds positions as Chairman of the Artistic Committee of the Beijing Music Festival, Artistic Director of the China Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, co-director of MISA Shanghai Summer Festival, and principal guest conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Yu is the Founder of the Beijing Music Festival and was its Artistic Director from 1998 to 2018. In July 2019, Long Yu was elected as the inaugural chairman of the China Musicians Association’s Symphony Orchestra League.

The year Maestro Yu assumed the post of GSO Music Director, he led the orchestra on a tour of Europe and Africa with cellist Mischa Maisky, performing at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Conservatoire de Luxembourg, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Cairo Opera House. During his first tenure (2003–2007) he led the GSO on tours covering five continents. In the past decade and a half, Long Yu not only led the GSO to the top tier of China’s most distinguished orchestras, but also established the Canton International Summer Music Academy (2005) and Canton Asian Music Festival (2010), serving asf Artistic Director. These two international events were lauded by many overseas visitors, helping establish the GSO’s reputation in the international arena. In January 2017, Yu invited cellist Yo-Yo Ma to launch the inaugural Youth Music Culture Guangdong (YMCG), widely praised by music professionals as “opening a new page for the Chinese symphonic world.”

In the summer of 2019, Long Yu embarked on a tour with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra including debuts at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival and Ravinia Festival, as well as returning to the Lucerne Festival, among others. In the 2019/20 season, alongside his work in China, Maestro Yu makes guest appearances across the globe, including with the New York Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Bern Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan Philharmonic, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia, among others.

In June 2018, Maestro Yu became the first Chinese conductor to sign with Deutsche Grammophon, establishing an exclusive recording contract that launched a global release and distribution partnership.

Maestro Yu has conducted a highly-acclaimed list of orchestras and opera houses throughout the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Washington DC’s National Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg State Opera, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic and Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Yu continues to collaborate frequently with many of the world’s most celebrated soloists such as Alison Balsom, Sumi Jo, Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky, Maxim Vengerov and Yuja Wang.

In 2008, the China Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Long Yu became the first Chinese orchestra in history to perform at the Vatican in the Paul VI Auditorium. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI attended the concert, marking a giant step in bringing eastern and western cultures closer together. In 2014, Maestro Yu and the China Philharmonic became the first Chinese conductor and orchestra to play at the BBC Proms, televised from London’s Royal Albert Hall. The concert was viewed by millions of people across the United Kingdom.

Leading the development of China’s orchestral landscape, Maestro Yu has created the nation’s first orchestral academy as a partnership between the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the New York Philharmonic. His dynamic vision is focused on introducing China’s growing audiences to key Western repertoire including Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Mahler’s symphonic cycle, as well as works of Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten and many others. In 2014, the New York Philharmonic named Maestro Yu an honorary member of their International Advisory Board. The 12-member Board serves as a network of advocates and ambassadors connecting with individuals and institutions in their home countries to cultivate the Philharmonic’s long-term reach and influence worldwide.

Long Yu’s career has included both artistic and leadership appointments. In 1992, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Central Opera Theatre in Beijing and was involved in the planning of the Chinese New Year’s Concert series later that year. He served as its conductor for three consecutive years. Long Yu later 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 was its Artistic Director for 20 years. Under his leadership, the Beijing Music Festival is now regarded as one of the world’s most important music festivals. In 2005, with the support of the Guangdong Provincial Government, he launched the Canton International Summer Music Academy, serving as its chairman for three years. By 2010, he established the Music in the Summer Air Shanghai Festival and the Canton International Music Festival.

Born in 1964 into a musical 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 of Music and the Hochschule der Kunst in Berlin. A recipient of countless international awards, Long Yu is a Chevalier dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the recipient of the 2002 Arts Patronage Award of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation. In 2005, the Italian President Berlusconi honored Maestro Yu with the title of L’onorificenza di commendatore for his outstanding contribution in the field of music and culture. He was awarded France’s highest honor of merit by receiving Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur from the French government in 2014. The following year, Maestro Yu was awarded the honorable title “National Literature and Art Worker of Excellence” in addition to the “Global Citizen Award” from the Atlantic Council and the Samuel Simons Sanford Medal from Yale University’s School of Music in America. In 2016, Long Yu was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and later that year he received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2018, Long Yu was conferred an Honorary Doctorate from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

At home in China, Long Yu was named the 2010 Person of the Year in the Arts Field in addition to receiving the 2013 China Arts Award. He was also named an Honorary Academician of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing for his great dedication to cultural exchange and music development in China.