CHINA NCPA ORCHESTRA

Chief Conductor: LÜ Jia | Conductor Laureate: CHEN Zuohuang

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, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, 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 Macao. 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 as“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.

CONDUCTORS

LÜ JiaChief Conductor
LÜ Jia is Artistic Director of Music of National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Music Director and Chief Conductor of China NCPA Orchestra, and Music Director & Chief Conductor of the Macao Orchestra, prior to which he has acted as Music Director of the Verona Opera House, Italy, and Artistic Director of the Santa Cruz De Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Spain.
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LÜ Jia

The Chinese conductor LÜ Jia's work has received great acclaim internationally. Born into a musical family in Shanghai, LÜ began studying piano and cello at a very young age. He later studied conducting at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, under the tutelage of esteemed conductor ZHENG Xiaoying. At the age of 24, LÜ entered the University of Arts in Berlin, where he continued his studies under Professor Hans-Martin Rabenstein and Robert Wolf. The following year, he was awarded both the First Prize and Jury’s Prize at the Antonio Pedeotti International Conducting Competition in Trento, Italy, and launched his career as a conductor.

Over the past decades, he has conducted over 2,000 orchestral concerts and opera performances in Europe and America, and became the first Asian conductor to serve as the artistic director of a major Italian opera house, as well as the first Chinese conductor to lead Chicago Symphony. He has worked with important productions at the Bayersiche Staatsoper in Munich, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and La Scala in Milan, as well as opera houses in Lausanne, Turin, Rome, Naples, Verona, Venice, Florence, Frankfurt and Stuggart. He has also worked with many renowned orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Lyon National Orchestra in France, Finnish Radio Symphony, Hamburg Radio Symphony, Bamberg Symphoniker, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and many others across Europe, America and Australia.

LÜ Jia was the first Chinese conductor to record Felix Mendelssohn’s complete orchestral works, and also the only conductor so far who has recorded the complete works by the important Swedish composer Ingvar Lidholm. His interpretations of German Classical Romanticism and French Impressionists have been praised for their “extremely convincing musical interpretation" with "musical precision and perfect baton technique.” Having directed nearly 50 operas in Italy and Germany, he has also been praised by Italian music critics as “a conductor who understands Italian opera even better than the Italians themselves do”. In 2007, his performance of La Gazza Ladra at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro was voted as European Opera Production of the Year. That same year, in recognition of his important contribution to musical culture in Italy, LÜ Jia was awarded the President’s Prize by President Giorgio Napolitano. In 2012, the Domingo International Vocal Competition invited LÜ Jia to serve on the jury, making him the Competition’s first-ever Chinese jury member.

In 2012, LÜ Jia was appointed Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of Opera at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing, China. Under his musical direction, NCPA's own productions of Lohengrin, Der Fliegende Hollander, Otello, La Nozze di Figaro, Un Ballo in Maschera, Tosca, and many other works, have received glowing reviews from the international press. With these brand new productions aspiring to high international standards, the NCPA has become a strong contender in the world of opera, and also launched an exciting new chapter in the history of professional opera productions in China. In the meantime, the NCPA Symphony Orchestra, under LÜ's baton, has fast established itself as one of the leading new ensembles in the orchestral world in China, presenting impressive performances season after season.

In 2017, LÜ Jia has been appointed Artistic Director of Music of NCPA, Music Director and Chief Conductor of China NCPA Orchestra. Before taking up his current posts in Beijing, LÜ served as Music Director at Verona Opera, Artistic Director at Symphony Orchestra of Tenerife, as well as Chief Conductor at Trieste Opera, Symphony Orchestra of Florence, Lazio Chamber Orchestra of Rome and Norrkopping Symphony Orchestra in Sweden. In addition to his NCPA music directorship, he is also currently the Music Director and Principal Conductor of Macao Orchestra.

CHEN ZuohuangConductor Laureate
Chen is a much sought-after musician and has been invited to be guest conductor of several dozens of orchestras around the world. He also has been invited as the jury member of many international musical competitions. Maestro CHEN’s art of conducting has won praises from the audience and musicians wherever he works. The persistent enthusiasm to introduce and promote Chinese symphonic music and young musical talents to the world made him a respected and welcome musical figure worldwide.  
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CHEN Zuohuang

CHEN Zuohuang started his early piano study at the Middle School attached to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and later graduated from the Conservatory’s Conducting Department. At the recommendation of Seiji Ozawa, Chen went to the United States to study at the Tanglewood Music Center and at the School of Music, University of Michigan. He has the honor as the first person ever to have received the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan, as well as becoming the first Doctor of Musical Arts of P. R. China. 

  

In 1987, CHEN assumed the position of conductor of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China and led it on a historic tour covering 24 cities in the United States, including New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He also led more than a dozen of orchestral tours in Europe, America and Asia with the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China, China National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, China Youth Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, Hamburg Youth Orchestra and Incheon Philharmonic Orchestra of S. Korea. 

  

Since 1980s, CHEN has been the Conductor of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China, Music Director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Chen was the founding Artistic Director of China National Symphony Orchestra in 1996. He has also been the Music Director of UNAM Philharmonic Orchestra in Mexico City, Artistic Director of Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, and Music Director of Incheon Philharmonic Orchestra of S. Korea. 

  

CHEN is a much sought-after musician and has been invited to be guest conductor of several dozens of orchestras around the world. He also has been invited as the jury member of many international musical competitions. Maestro CHEN’s art of conducting has won praises from the audience and musicians wherever he works. The persistent enthusiasm to introduce and promote Chinese symphonic music and young musical talents to the world made him a respected and welcome musical figure worldwide. What’s more, he is committed to promoting extensively symphonic music in China and now also works as the Artistic Director of Guiyang Symphony Orchestra. 

  

CHEN Zuohuang became the Artistic Director of Music at China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts in 2007, and was the first Chief Conductor of China NCPA Orchestra between 2010 and 2012. He is currently also the Music Director of Guiyang Symphony Orchestra. 

YUAN DingAssistant Conductor
YUAN Ding is already widely known as one of the most promising conductors in his generation in China. In February 2013 he was appointed as the assistant conductor of China NCPA orchestra. His following season with NCPA features new productions of Swan LakeOtelloDie fliegende HollanderLe Nozze di Figaro, and Un ballo in Maschera. 
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YUAN Ding

YUAN Ding is already widely known as one of the most promising conductors in his generation in China. In February 2013 he was appointed as the assistant conductor of China NCPA orchestra. His following season with NCPA features new productions of Swan Lake, Otello, Die fliegende Hollander, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Un ballo in Maschera.

As the first prize graduate of the China Central Conservatory of Music, YAUN Ding continued his conducting study under the guidance of Ulrich Windfuhr at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" in Leipzig, during which, he also won the praise from Jorma Panula and Seiji Ozawa. With distinguished talent of Italian and German langue and drama learning, Yuan Ding has gained an excellent operatic reputation in China with a broad range of repertoire, including La Traviata, Rigoletto, Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Madama Butterfly, Tosca and Chinese opera Wilderness and Soong Chingling. His previous orchestra engagements include MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Philharmonie Sudwestfalen, Oper Leipzig, Jenaer Philharmonie, the orchestra and chorus of Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Leipzig, Korea National Opera, Macao Orchestra.

Apart from that, Mr. YUAN was also invited as a guest and assistant conductor of China NCPA Opera Festival, Eutiner Oper Festspiele and Macao International Music Festival. YUAN is known as the exclusive assistant conductor for Xincao Li (the principal conductor of CNSO) and Lü Jia (the music director and principal conductor of Arena di Verona, Macao Orchestra and NCPA Orchestra) for many years. The past seasons highlight his successful work on Tosca during the Macao International Music Festival in 2012.

Served as associate of Michel Plasson since March 2008, in January 2012, YUAN Ding won a highly successful acclaim for his Leipzig debut of Mendelssohn No.2 Symphony “Lobgesang”. The performance was praised by critics of Leipziger Volkszeitung as an “extraordinary preciseness of musical narration”, and he possesses “advanced professional technique and all characteristics a successful conductor should have”. (Leipziger Volkszeitung, 2012).

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Dedicated to the staging of epic operas, ballets and dance dramas, the golden Opera House is considered the centerpiece of the NCPA. Its main tone is golden color, which looks glamorous and splendid. In the auditorium are the stalls and three higher levels of balconies, which can seat an audience of 2,207, including the venue of SRO. It is equipped with a modern stage that can be moved up/down/backward/forward or rotated, a ballet stage that can slant, and a rising orchestra pit for the triple winds orchestra. All the cutting-edge staging mechanism provides artists with enormous possibilities of creative performance.