China NCPA Orchestra: Mercedes Benz Gala Concert
Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts - Concert Hall
Date: January 12, 2018
China NCPA Orchestra is the resident orchestra of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Beijing. Established in March 2010, the Orchestra consists of highly accomplished musicians from around the world, who have performed in more than a dozen opera productions presented by its home venue each year as well as in ballets and regular orchestral concerts in its own season. With a notably busy schedule, the young ensemble has fast established itself as one of the most adventurous and dynamic orchestras in the country. LÜ Jia took up the post of Chief Conductor in February 2012, succeeding CHEN Zuohuang, the current Conductor Laureate, NCPA’s then Artistic Director of Music as well as a founder of the Orchestra. YUAN Ding was appointed Assistant Conductor in the same year. In January 2017, upon CHEN Zuohuang’s retirement, LÜ Jia started serving as NCPA’s Artistic Director of Music and the NCPA Orchestra’s Music Director.
The NCPA Orchestra demonstrates an abiding commitment to the highest level of artistic excellence and takes pride in its long-term collaborations with the finest musicians of our time. Artists associated with the Orchestra in the past few years have included Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Myung-Whun Chung, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Gunter Herbig, Leif Segerstam, Shao-Chia Lü, TANG Muhai, ZHANG Xian, Gilbert Varga, Lang Lang, Rudolf Buchbinder, Stephen Kovacevich, Yuja Wang, Khatia Buniatishvili, Kyung-Wha Chung, Vadim Repin, WANG Jian, Gautier Capucon Han-Na Chang, Alison Balsom, Leo Nucci, Placido Domingo and HE Hui among many others. Maestro Lorin Maazel worked closely with the Orchestra before his passing and praised the musicians for their “amazing professionalism and great passion in music”. After working with the Orchestra in a series of concerts and the NCPA’s new production of La Traviata in June 2010, maestro Christoph Eschenbach also declared it “one of the finest orchestras in Asia”.
In the first few years since its establishment, China NCPA Orchestra has become one of the leading ensembles in the country both on stage and in the pit, gaining critical acclaim for its performances in NCPA’s many opera productions. To date they have played for over 30 new productions, including not only classical repertoire works such as Tosca, The Barber of Seville, Die Fledermaus, Lohengrin, Aida, Otello, and Nabucco, but also newly commissioned works The Chinese Orphan, Rickshaw Boy and Visitors on the Snow Mountain. In its own orchestral concert season, the Orchestra has consistently presented creative and diverse programmes, including a remarkable Beethoven Project in 2013 under the baton of LÜ Jia. Their performance of the mammoth Ring without Words with its conductor, Lorin Maazel, was released on SONY Classics worldwide, the only recording the great maestro ever made with a Chinese orchestra
Another important field of work that the Orchestra has explored extensively in the short period of time since its establishment is the creation and promotion of contemporary music. Having presented the Chinese premieres of major works by John Admas, Toru Takemitsu and Giya Kancheli, it has given the world premieres of more than ten substantial new orchestral works commissioned by the NCPA, written by composers from across the globe, including Michael Gordon, Augusta Read Thomas, Kalevi Aho, Joby Talbot and ZHAO Jiping. It has also played a major role in the NCPA’s annual Young Composers Programme, providing a unique platform nurturing future Chinese composers.
The NCPA Orchestra has flexed its wings on the international stage with high-profile touring work, receiving widespread international praise for its performances. From 2012 to 2015, the Orchestra was invited by Kissingen Summer Music Festival and Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, and continued its German tour with concerts in Nürnberg, Hamburg and Berlin. It also gave performances in Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Daegu, Taipei and Macau. During the 2014/15 season, the Orchestra undertook its first North American tour, where it performed in seven major cities in the US and Canada, under the baton of LÜ Jia. This was not only a milestone for this young ensemble, but also a breakthrough for any Chinese orchestra performing abroad. Musical America praised its “joyful confidence and youthful strength”.Concerto Net described it “a polished, first rate ensemble”.
With its commitment to education and outreach activities, the Orchestra has presented a series of Weekend Concerts at its home venue since its establishment. With selected programmes and accessible ticket prices, these concerts have become extremely popular with audiences new to classical music. Current plans in the repertoire include a new series highlighting the Beethoven Symphony, led by Chief Conductor, LÜ Jia. In addition, the Orchestra frequently initiates wide-reaching educational projects in association with educational institutions across the city.
The forthcoming 17/18 season will have “Ode to Friends” as its central theme, featuring concerts conducted by LÜ Jia, ZHANG Xian, ZHENG Xiaoying, Fabio Luisi, Christopher Eschenbach, Zubin Mehta, Alexandre Bloch, ZHANG Guoyong, Rainer Honeck, YUAN Ding, with soloists Rene Fleming, Maureen McKay, Kristin Lewis, LI Liang, Alexei Volodin, ZHANG Haochen, Behzod Abduraimov, SUN Yingdi, LÜ Siqing, ZHU Dan, Clara Jumi Kang, Hsin-Yun Huang, Gabriel Schwabe, WANG Liang, LI Biao, and many others. Renowned composer CHEN Qigang and pianist Lang Lang, both as this season’s Artist-in-Residence, will lead a number of concerts as well as educational projects. The Orchestra will also perform in fifteen NCPA opera productions including, Tristan und Isolde and Falstaff. In this season, the Orchestra will initiate its very second tour to the US under the baton of LÜ Jia, and will give performances in Carnergie Hall, Chicago Symphony Centre, Kimmel Centre, Davies Symphony Hall and other two prestigious venues, in collaboration with Lang Lang, Gautier Capucon, WU Man and NING Feng.