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Shanghai hits a high note

By Zhang Kun | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-07 08:02

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra has frequently performed overseas since the 1970s. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Among the big names on the 2017 lineup are the Berlin Philharmonic, the Amsterdam-based Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic.

"Just as Germans take pride in the Berlin Philharmonic, I hope the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra can be the pride of everyone in China," Yu says when meeting with the Shanghai media before the orchestra set off for Europe.

On the tour, the orchestra will play works such as the Butterfly Lovers' Concerto by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, and Aaron Avshalomov's symphonic poem Hutungs of Peking.

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1879 and was first known as the Shanghai Public Band.

It expanded into an orchestra in 1907, and was later renamed the Shanghai Municipal Council Symphony Orchestra.

The orchestra began to make international tours in the 1970s. Since then it has been a frequent performer overseas.

"Looking around the world, you'll find few orchestras with such a long history-we are even older than the Berlin Philharmonic," Yu says.

"The orchestra is an important part of the city's culture and history, and deserves to be celebrated. We want to set the bar and show we are one of the top-level symphony orchestras in the world."

While China's public has shown great enthusiasm for foreign culture, the world still has to learn about Chinese culture, he says.

Yu has been leading the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra for almost eight years. He is also artistic director and chief conductor of the China Philharmonic and music director of Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra.

In Shanghai, he has been the co-director of the Music in the Summer Air Festival since 2010.

The outdoor festival is aimed at taking classical music to a wider audience. This year's festival concluded with a concert featuring the No 5 Symphony in D Minor by Shostakovich, conducted by Yu, at the Shanghai Symphony Hall on July 15.

"We'd love to play more music by Chinese composers," he says, but there has not been many "heavyweight" Chinese works in the past decades.

"The Shanghai orchestra has been actively commissioning new works, and been in close contact with young composers, because the continuous birth of new work is of vital importance, not only for the music scene, but for culture and civilization," he says.

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