China NCPA Orchestra is the resident orchestra of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Beijing. Since its founding in 2010, the orchestra has fast established itself as one of the most adventurous and dynamic orchestras in the country and earned an international reputation through extensive performances abroad.
Numerous world-renowned artists have collaborated with the orchestra, including Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Myung-Whun Chung, Christoph Eschenbach, Fabio Luisi, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Leif Segerstam, Gunter Herbig, Shao-Chia Lu, ZHANG Xian, Rudolf Buchbinder, Stephen Kovacevich, Khatia Buniatishvili, Lang Lang, Yuja Wang, ZHANG Haochen, Kyung-Wha Chung, Vadim Repin, Siqing Lu, NING Feng, WANG Jian, Gautier Capucon, Alison Balsom, Sabine Meyer, Placido Domingo, Leo Nucci, Renee Fleming among many others. Lorin Maazel worked closely with the orchestra before his passing and praised the musicians for their “amazing professionalism and great passion in music”. Christoph Eschenbach also declared it as “one of the finest orchestras in Asia”.
Over the years, the orchestra has gained critical acclaim for its artistic excellence in both concerts and operas. To date they have played in over 60 NCPA opera productions, including classical repertoires such as Tristan and Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Aida, Otello, Nabucco, Tosca, Turandot, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, and newly commissioned works Rickshaw Boy, The Long March, FANG Zhimin, The Jinsha River, Visitors on the Snow Mountain and The Dawns Here Are Quiet. Their live recording of The Ring without Words with its creator, Lorin Maazel, was released on SONY Music worldwide, the only recording the great maestro ever made with an orchestra from China.
The orchestra has consistently offered creative and diverse programmes through its concert season. As part of its continuous efforts to promote contemporary music, the orchestra presented the China Premieres of major works by John Adams, Toru Takemitsu, et al. and gave the World Premieres of dozens of substantial new orchestral works commissioned from composers across the globe, including CHEN Qigang, Bright Sheng, ZHAO Jiping, Michael Gordon, Kalevi Aho, et al. It has also played a significant role in the NCPA's Young Composers Programme, providing a unique platform nurturing the next generation of composers in China.
Alongside its concert series, the orchestra has received widespread praise for its international appearances at the Kissingen Summer Music Festival and the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival and concerts in many cities in Germany, as well as in other countries and regions such as Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Daegu, Abu Dhabi, Taipei and Macau. In 2014, the orchestra undertook its first North American tour and returned in 2017, where it performed at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Center, Davies Symphony Hall and other major venues in the US and Canada, under the baton of LÜ Jia. Musical America praised its “joyful confidence and youthful strength”. Concerto Net described it as “a polished, first rate ensemble”.
With its commitment to educational and outreach activities, the orchestra has presented a series of Weekend Matinee Concerts at its home venue, providing local audience with specially selected programmes at accessible ticket prices. The orchestra also frequently initiates wide-reaching educational projects in association with educational institutions across the city.
In this unpredictable 2020, the NCPAO led by the Music Director LÜ Jia has collaborated with LI Xincao, CHEN Lin, LI Biao, YANG Yang, ZHANG Yi, Siqing Lu, ZHANG Haochen and many other artists in presenting online concert series over five months period. In November, the NCPAO announced its 2020-21 season after several rounds of adjustments. The new season sees the orchestra’s performances in operas including FANG Zhimin, Visitor on the Snow Mountain, LAN Huahua, and the premiere of the NCPA’s new production of Gianni Schicchi. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and the 160th anniversary of Mahler’s, Music Director LÜ Jia conducts the NCPAO in Egmont with actor SUN Qiang and a series of classic symphonies and chamber works of the two great composers. The 2020-2021 season features several Chinese artists’ debuts, among them YU Feng, ZHANG Jiemin, Jinxu Xiahou, KONG Jianing, DU Tianqi, and CHEN Yue. Highlights of the season also include the returns of ZHANG Guoyong, YUAN Ding, SONG Yuanming, YANG Xuefei, ZHANG Qiang, LI Jia, and David Wang. As the Composer-in-Focus, ZHAO Jiping’s music will be performed by the NCPAO throughout the season.
In February 2012, LÜ Jia took up the post of Chief Conductor, succeeding CHEN Zuohuang, NCPA’s then Artistic Director of Music as well as a founder of the orchestra. In January 2017, LÜ Jia started serving as NCPA's Artistic Director of Music and the NCPA Orchestra's Music Director.