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.
China NCPA Chorus
China NCPA Chorus is the resident chorus of National Centre for the Performing Arts.
China NCPA Chorus was established on December 8th, 2009. WU Lingfen, the famous conductor in China, serves as its chorus master. As the professional performing group that belongs to the highest palace of performing arts in China, the chorus adheres to the NCPA's guiding principle of "for the people, for art, for the world" and is recognized as a vigorous professional chorus with infinite potential.
During the process of its growth in the past eight years, names of many most outstanding artistic masters in today's world have been observed, including famous directors Francesca Zambello, Giancarlo del Monaco, Hugo de Ana, CHEN Xinyi, CAO Qijing, LIAO Xianghong, YI Liming, LI Liuyi and TIAN Qinxin; famous conductors Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Daniel Oren, Myung-whun Chung, Jaap van Zweden, Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, YAN Liangkun, YANG Hongnian, LÜ Jia, ZHANG Guoyong, LI Xincao, ZHENG Jian and YANG Li; famous singers Plácido Domingo, Leo Nucci, Inva Mula, Juan Pons, Brandon Jovanovich, Francesco Meli, YAN Weiwen, DAI Yuqiang, WEI Song, Warren Mok, YUAN Chenye, LIAO Changyong, ZHANG Yalun, ZHANG Liping, Dilbèr, SUN Xiuwei, HE Hui, YANG Guang and Liang LI. The masters have given high appraisals to the chorus. The world famous tenor Domingo said, "I am honoured to cooperate with these gifted young artists"; the late conductor Lorin Maazel said, "It is a Chorus of passion"; conductor Daniel Oren, who was excited after rehearsal, said, "This is the chorus that has the best sound I have ever heard. Young as they are, they are better than many of the choruses in Europe"; conductor Antonio Pappano said, "This is a youthful and passionate chorus that has been well-trained to sound wonderful and harmonious."
As one of China's leading choruses both in the orchestra pit and concert hall, the NCPA Chorus brings to life fresh and vivid operatic characters one after another with their lavishly expressive singing and passionate theatrical performance, playing an active role in pushing forward the artistic production of National Centre for the Performing Arts. Since its establishment, it has participated in more than 50 operas by NCPA such as opera commissions Xishi, A Village Teacher, The Chinese Orphan, The Beautiful Blue Danube, The Ballad of Canal, Rickshaw Boy, Visitors on the Snow Mountain, Sunrise, The Dawns Here Are Quiet, FANG Zhimin, The Long March, Jinsha River, LAN Huahua and Effendi, and Chinese and foreign classic operas such as The White-Haired Girl, The Red Guards on Honghu Lake, Turandot, Carmen, La Traviata, L'Elisir d'Amore, Tosca, Die Fledermaus, Der Fliegende Holländer, Un Ballo in Maschera, Lohengrin, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Otello, Nabucco, Le Nozze di Figaro, L'Italiana in Algeri, Il Trovatore, Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci, Norma, Don Pasquale, Aida, Rigoletto, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Eugene Onegin, Andrea Chenier, Der Rosenkavalier, Simon Boccanegra, Samson et Dalilah, La Gioconda, Tannhäuser, Macbeth, Rusalka, Lucia di Lammermoor, Tristan und Isolde and Falstaff. Its artistic attainments have won favourable comments from the insiders and audiences.
Apart from operas, the chorus has also planned and performed in many large-scale vocal works and theme concerts including Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Mahler's Second, Third and Eighth Symphonies, Verdi's Requiem, and Concert to Commemorate the 110th Anniversary of HUANG Zi's Birth, the opera concerts such as William Tell, Don Juan and many state-level performances including large-scale music and dance epic Road to Rejuvenation, Victory and Peace – Evening Gala to Commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the World Anti-fascist War and the Counter-Japanese War of the Chinese People, Evening Gala for the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the Gala Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Victory of the Long March and the Gala "Millennial Road" for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The chorus makes more audiences to understand more of its charm and the artistic spirit of its unremitting efforts.
As the singing envoy of zeitgeist, the chorus has paid much attention to fostering the audience, supporting and participating in the artistic education and popularization activities of the NCPA. It plans and participates in the NCPA's Weekend Concert series, Classic Art Lectures series, and appears in more than 40 public benefit events held in schools, communities, enterprises, military camps and hospitals every year to help popularize elegant art, so as to improve people's aesthetic tastes. Meanwhile, the chorus commits itself to introducing the NCPA's artistic productions and outstanding classic works to audiences at home and abroad. It participated in the tour of the NCPA's opera Visitors on the Snow Mountain in seven provinces and municipalities across China, opera commission FANG Zhimin's tour in Jiangxi Province, opera The Long March’s tour in Nanjing as part of the 3rd China Opera Festival and has visited foreign countries, such as Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China’s Hong Kong and Macao for exchanges. The chorus's performances have been critically acclaimed by the audiences and local counterparts. Especially in 2015, the chorus went with the NCPA to Italy for a 17-day tour of the opera Rickshaw Boy to tremendous success, demonstrating rich musical expressions of the chorus.
Beijing, in the new century, is full of the prosperous atmosphere of elegant art. The young artists of the chorus devote their most vigorous and dynamic youth to the cause of China's opera, and strive for dream and art!