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Shanghai Symphony Orchestra celebrates 140th anniversary with world tour and album

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO) celebrates its 140th anniversary this Summer with a world tour and a new album, 'Gateways', on Deutsche Grammophon.

Asia’s oldest symphony orchestra, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO), celebrates its 140th anniversary with a three-week world tour and a new album, Gateways, on Deutsche Grammophon.

The tour runs from 14 August to 1 September 2019, during which the orchestra will make its debut at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival, Wolftrap Festival and Ravinia Festival in addition to return visits to Lucerne Festival, Grafenegg Festival and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.

Three world-class soloists

For the tour with Music Director, Long Yu (who celebrates his 10th season with the SSO), the orchestra will be joined by three world-class soloists: Alisa Weilerstein (cello), Frank-Peter Zimmerman (violin) and Eric Lu (piano).

Long Yu © Hanjun

Each of the soloists joins for a concerto:

  • Alisa Weilerstein presents Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor
  • Frank Peter Zimmermann presents Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No 1 in D major
  • Eric Lu presents Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23 in A major

In addition, as part of its ‘Music Connecting Worlds’ ethos, the SSO presents Wu Xing (The Five Elements) by Chinese composer, Qigang Chen, throughout the tour.

The orchestra will perform with Alisa Weilerstein at Wolftrap Festival (14 August 2019), Ravinia Festival (16 August 2019) and Edinburgh International Festival (19 August 2019) before joining Frank Peter Zimmermann for performances at the Lucerne Festival (23 August 2019), Grafenegg Festival (25 August 2019) and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (27 August 2019).

To conclude the tour, the orchestra makes its BBC Proms debut with pianist, Eric Lu, winner of the 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition (1 September 2019). The performance will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and recorded for transmission on BBC Four on 6 September 2019.

About Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1879 as the Shanghai Public Band, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra was the first orchestra in China to widely introduce symphonic music to Chinese audiences, cultivating Chinese talents and performing Chinese orchestral works. The orchestra’s hall – Shanghai Symphony Hall – was built in 2014 by architect, Arata Isozaki, who was recently awarded the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Now in its 140th year, the SSO has focussed on building connections between East and West throughout its history. Most notably, the orchestra founded the Shanghai Orchestra Academy, a joint initiative with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

The SSO has been touring internationally since the 1970s when they performed in Australia and New Zealand. In 2017, the orchestra was the first Chinese ensemble to perform at the Lucerne Festival.

About Gateways

Deutsche Grammophon signed the SSO last year and its first studio recording on the label, Gateways, is released on 28 June 2019.

The recording sees the orchestra blend Chinese and Russian repertoires, presenting works by Chinese composer, Qigang Chen, alongside Rachmaninov and Kreisler, with soloist, Maxim Vengerov. Qigang Chen’s violin concerto, La joie de la souffrance, was premiered in 2017, conducted by Long Yu and Maxim Vengerov, for whom the piece was written.

In addition to releasing new recordings, Deutsche Grammophon will also release earlier recordings from the SSO’s existing catalogue.

‘Championing the power of orchestral music in Asia’

Fedina Zhou, President of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, said:

‘Throughout its 140-year history, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra has performed at the highest levels of musicianship and innovation. As Asia’s oldest orchestra, the SSO has been at the forefront of championing the power of orchestral music in the region.

‘In recent years, the orchestra has continued to expand its activities to include the opening of the Shanghai Symphony Hall in 2014, founding the Music in the Summer Air (MISA) Festival, co-founding the Shanghai Orchestra Academy with the New York Philharmonic and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and founding and hosting the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition.

‘We are delighted to bring global audiences our ethos of ‘Music Connecting Worlds’ with our international tour and recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon.’