Numerous world-renowned artists have collaborated with the orchestra, including Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Myun
g-Whun Chung, Christoph Eschenbach, Fabio Luisi, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Leif Segerstam, Gunter Herbig, Shao-Chia Lu, Xian Zhang, Rudolf Buchbinder, Stephen Kovacevich, Khatia Buniatishvili, Lang Lang, Yuja Wang, Haochen Zhang, Kyung-Wha Chung, Vadim Repin, Siqing Lu, NING Feng, Jian Wang, 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
, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni
, Eugene Onegin
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. In 2019, the orchestra’s recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 was awarded "Best Orchestral Album" at the 2018 Chinese Audiophile Vinyl Award. In 2021, the NCPAO released Beethoven’s Egmont
becoming the first Chinese orchestra to record this masterpiece. In celebration of the decade tenure of its Music Director LÜ Jia, the orchestra released two albums in 2022, including Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 and a selection of live recordings conducted by LÜ Jia In July 2023, the NCPAO released the recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3.
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 Qigang Chen, 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 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”. In 2021, they appeared in "See Me: A Global Concert" along with world-wide artists, orchestras and choirs as part of the Opening Ceremony of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda virtual event. In 2022, the orchestra recorded for the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, accompanying billions of viewers to witness the lighting of the Olympic flame. In April 2023, musicians from the orchestra visited South America performing joint concerts with Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra in Brazil and Instituto Superior de Arte de Teatro Colon in Argentina.
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 specially selected programmes and accessible ticket prices. The orchestra also frequently initiates wide-reaching educational projects in association with educational institutions across the city. In 2020, the orchestra launched an online concert series in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic drawing an average audience of 30 million viewers. April 2021 saw the orchestra complete their first six-city national tour, which Music Weekly praised as "a series of sophisticated programmes in concerts that blew the roof off,”
followed by the second national tour in March 2023.
In February 2012, LÜ Jia took up the post of Chief Conductor, succeeding Zuohuang Chen, 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. In 2022, LAI Jiajing and SUN Yifan were appointed as assistant conductors.