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Press Releases

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Celebrates 140th Anniversary with World Tour Beginning with Debuts at Wolf Trap and Ravinia

July 11, 2019 | By Patricia Price
Managing Director, 8VA Music Consultancy

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO), Asia’s oldest symphony orchestra, celebrates its 140th anniversary with a three-week world tour fresh off the heels of the release of its new album on Deutsche Grammophon, Gateways. Led by Music Director Long Yu, the SSO kicks off its tour by making two debuts in the United States – Wolf Trap (August 14) and Ravinia (August 16) – joined by world-renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

Striving to promote and build cultural exchanges between East and West as part of its “Music Connecting Worlds” ethos, the SSO performs Wu Xing (The Five Elements) by leading Chinese composer Qigang Chen, throughout its tour. At both Wolf Trap and Ravinia, Alisa Weilerstein performs Dvorák’s Cello Concerto in B minor with the orchestra. Rachmaninov’s energetic last composition, Symphonic Dances, completes the program for the United States audiences.

Fedina Zhou, President of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, says, “Throughout its 140-year history, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra has performed at the highest levels of musicianship and innovation. As Asia’s oldest orchestra, the SSO has been at the forefront of championing the power of orchestral music in the region. We are delighted to bring global audiences our ethos of ‘Music Connecting Worlds’ with our international tour and recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon.”

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1879 as the Shanghai Public Band, was the first orchestra in China to widely introduce symphonic music to Chinese audiences, cultivating Chinese talents and performing Chinese orchestral works. The Orchestra’s impressive hall – Shanghai Symphony Hall – was built in 2014 by leading architect Arata Isozaki, who was recently awarded the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Now in its 140th year, the SSO has focused on building connections between East and West throughout its history. Most notably, the Orchestra founded the Shanghai Orchestra Academy, a joint initiative with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. The SSO has been touring internationally since the 1970s when they performed in Australia and New Zealand. In 2017, the Orchestra was the first Chinese ensemble to perform at the Lucerne Festival. In all its international tours, the Orchestra strives to promote Chinese culture by performing works by Chinese composers and integrating Chinese traditional elements into Western pieces.

After its debuts at both Wolf Trap and Ravinia, the Orchestra goes on to perform with Alisa Weilerstein at the Edinburgh International Festival (August 19) before joining violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann for performances at the Lucerne Festival (August 23), Grafenegg Festival (August 25) and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (August 27). To conclude the tour, the Orchestra makes its BBC Proms debut with pianist Eric Lu, winner of the 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition (September 1). The performance will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and recorded for transmission on BBC Four on Friday, September 6.

2019 United States Summer Tour Details 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 | 8:00 PM
Wolf Trap (Filene Center)
1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA 22812

Qigang Chen: Wu Xing (The Five Elements)
Dvorák: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances

To purchase tickets ($25-80), call 877.965.3872 or visit Wolf Trap’s website at

Friday, August 16, 2019 | 8:30 PM
Pavilion at Ravinia
418 Sheridan Rd, Highland Park, IL 60035

Qigang Chen: Wu Xing (The Five Elements)
Dvorák: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances

To purchase tickets ($10-90), call the Ravinia Box Office at 847.266.5100 or visit Ravinia’s website at

About Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
Each season the SSO presents over 70 performances including symphonic concerts, operas, chamber concerts and crossover performances at the Shanghai Symphony Hall. The Orchestra invites leading soloists, conductors and orchestras from around the world to perform at their Hall as part of their SSO Presents series. In their 2018/19 season the Orchestra presented a series of original Chinese works, including the world premiere of Zhou Long’s Classic of Mountains and Seas, Qigang Chen’s Un temps disparu and Zhao Jiping’s symphonic suite Qiao’s Grand Courtyard. The Orchestra gave the Chinese premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin in October 2018 conducted by Lawrence Renes. Also in 2018, Deutsche Grammophon signed the SSO and its first studio recording on the label – Gateways – released June 28, 2019. In January 2019, the Orchestra released a live recording of its landmark performance at the Imperial Ancestral Temple outside of Beijing’s Forbidden City, a rare event at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

About Qigang Chen
A leading Chinese composer described as a “master of orchestration,” Qigang Chen possesses a unique voice which fuses Chinese and western classical traditions throughout his works. Chen’s works have been premiered by celebrated artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Charles Dutoit, Leonard Slatkin, Maxim Vengerov, and orchestras including Orchestre National de France and the China Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1984, legendary composer Olivier Messiaen remerged from retirement solely to accept Chen as his last student for four years. Chen was the Music Director of the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and composed You and Me, a song selected by competition as the theme song for the 2008 games. In 2013, he was decorated with Chevalier de l'Ordre des arts et des lettres by the French government.




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