China NCPA Orchestra is the resident orchestra of 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 the Orchestra’s 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 and also one of the founders of the Orchestra. LÜ Jia has been appointed as NCPA’s Artistic Director of Music and Music Director of China NCPA Orchestra since 2017. YUAN Ding was named as Assistant Conductor in 2012.
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 two 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, Stephen Kovacevich, Leo Nucci, WANG Jian, Gautier Capucon, Yuja Wang and Han-Na Chang, among many others. Maestro Lorin Maazel had worked closely with the Orchestra before his passing, and he praised the musicians for their “amazing professionalism and great passion for 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 six 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 of NCPA’s many opera productions. To date, they have played over 30 new productions, including not only classical repertoire works such as Tosca, The Barber of Seville, Die Fledermaus, Lohengrin, Aida, Otello and Nabucco, but also newly commissioned works, includingThe Chinese Orphan, Rickshaw Boy, and Visitors on the Ice Mountain. In its own orchestral concert season, the Orchestra has consistently presented creative and diverse programmes, including a remarkable Beethoven Project under the baton of LÜ Jia in 2013. China NCPA Orchestra’s performance of the mammothRing Without Words conducted by Lorin Maazel has been released on SONY Classics worldwide, which is the only recording the great maestro ever made with a Chinese orchestra.
Another important field of work that the Orchestra has explored extensively in a short period 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, the Orchestra has given 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. The Orchestra 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 tours, 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 Germany tour in Nürnberg, Hamburg and Berlin. It also gave performances in Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Daegu, Taipei and Macau. 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 tour was not only a milestone for the young ensemble, but also a breakthrough for any other Chinese orchestra performing abroad. Musical America praised the Orchestra for its “joyful confidence and youthful strength”. Concerto Net described it as “a polished, first rate ensemble”.
With its commitment to education and outreach, 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 are extremely popular with audiences new to classical music. Current plan in repertoire includes a new series highlighting the Beethoven Symphony Cycle, led by Chief Conductor, LÜ Jia. In addition, the Orchestra frequently initiates wide-reaching educational projects in association with related institutions across the city.
The 16/17 season had "Music Speaks" as its central theme, featuring concerts conducted by LÜ Jia, Myung-Whun Chung, Shao-Chia Lü, Claus Peter Flor, Pavel Kogan, HannuLintu, TANG Muhai, ZHANG Yi, and LI Biao, with soloists Kyung-Wha Chung, Gautier Capucon, Henning Kraggerud, WANG Jian, WU Man, ZHANG Haochen, CHEN Sa, Li-Wei Qin, YANG Tianwa, NING Feng, WU Wei and many others. Renowned composer CHEN Qigang and pianist Yuja Wang, both as the season’s Artist-in-Residence, led a number of concerts as well as educational projects. The Orchestra has also performed in 15 NCPA opera productions including Tannhauser and Rusalka.