China NCPA Orchestra
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 perform 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 levels 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, 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 under the baton of LÜ Jia, in 2013. Their performance of the mammoth Ring without Words with its creator, 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 gave 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 the next generation of 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 made its German tour continued 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 “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 since its establishment. With specially selected programmes and accessible ticket prices, these have become extremely popular with Beijing audiences new to classical music. Current plans in this context include a new series highlighting the Beethoven symphony cycle, led by its Chief Conductor, LÜ Jia. In addition, the orchestra frequently initiates wide-reaching educational projects in association with educational institutions across the city.
This 17/18 season the orchestra have “Ode to Friends” as its central theme, featuring concerts conducted by LÜ Jia, ZHANGXian, ZHENG Xiaoying, Christopher Eschenbach, Shao-Chia Lü, Alexandre Bloch, ZHANG Guoyong, Rainer Honeck, YUAN Ding, with soloists Rene Fleming, Lang Lang, Kristin Lewis, Gautier Capucon, Liang Li, NING Feng, WU Man, Alexei Volodin, ZHANG Haochen, Behzod Abduraimov, SUN Yingdi, LU Siqing, TAN Dan, Hsin-Yun Huang, Gabriel Schwabe, LI Biao, SUN Li, SONG Yuanming, LI Xiaoliang and many others. Renowned composer CHEN Qigang and pianist Lang Lang, both as this season's Artist-in-Residence, led a number of concerts as well as educational projects. The orchestra also perform in 15 NCPA opera productions including, Tristan und Isolde and Falstaff. In this season, the orchestra initiated its very second tour to the US under the baton of LÜ Jia, and gave performances to Carnergie Hall, Chicago Symphony Centre, Kimmel Centre, Davies Symphony Hall, Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor and Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill, in collaborations with ZHANG Haochen, Gautier Capucon, WU Man and NING Feng.