Music Worcester, Inc. presents the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, November 11th at Mechanics Hall, 8pm, with Maestro Long Yu conducting and featuring pianist Yuja Wang. A free, pre-concert lecture will also be offered at 7pm in Washburn Hall (at Mechanics Hall) by Stephen Ledbetter, a scholar, writer, lecturer, and conductor who served as Musicologist and Program Annotator for the Boston Symphony Orchestra for many years.
The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra is the earliest and the best-known ensemble of its kind in Asia. Formed in 1879 as the Shanghai Public Band, it developed into an Orchestra in 1907, promoted Western Music, introduced the first Chinese orchestral work to Asian audiences and has been reputed as being the “best in the Far East.” Spanning three different centuries, the Shanghai Symphony has now embraced a new era; it has held over ten thousand concerts, including premiere performances of several thousand musical works, and has collaborated with many guest artists (conductors, soloists and vocalists) of world renown.
The orchestra has gained a reputation as the most authoritative explainer of Chinese symphonic compositions and has become increasingly influential both at home and abroad, after most recently completing the audio and video recordings of Zhu Jian’er’s Symphonies, Tan Dun’s multimedia concerto, The Map, and music for the prize-winning film (Oscar and Grammy Awards) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Since the 1970s, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra has toured extensively abroad. In 1990, the orchestra made its debut at Carnegie Hall in New York; in 2003, the orchestra performed in 11 cities in the US; in 2004, it toured Europe to celebrate the Sino-French Cultural Year. The Orchestra’s 125th Anniversary Celebration Concert, given at the Berliner Philharmonie (the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra is the first Chinese symphony orchestra to play in this hall), was hailed as a great success.
Maestro Long Yu, Music Director and Conductor for The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, is one of the most distinguished Chinese conductors with an established international reputation. Yu is also Music Director of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, President of the Beijing Music Festival Artistic Committee and President of the Artistic Committee of the Shanghai Oriental Center.
22-year old Yuja Wang has firmly established herself as one of the most significant pianists of her generation. She first came to international recognition in February 2005 when, on one day’s notice, she replaced Radu Lupu with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Pinchas Zukerman conducting, performing Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4. The success was immediate and dramatic with the Canada press reporting “a star is born.” Wang was immediately reengaged to perform Chopin’s Concerto No. 1 in June and has been invited back every season since. Wang is widely recognized for playing that combines the spontaneity and fearless imagination of youth with the discipline and precision of a mature artist. Regularly lauded for her controlled, prodigious technique, Wang’s command of the piano has been described as “astounding” and “superhuman,” and she has been praised for her authority over the most complex technical demands of the repertoire, the depth of her musical insight, as well as her fresh interpretations and graceful, charismatic stage presence. Following her San Francisco recital debut, The San Francisco Chronicle wrote “The arrival of Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang on the musical scene is an exhilarating and unnerving development. To listen to her in action is to re-examine whatever assumptions you may have had about how well the piano can actually be played,” and The Washington Post called Wang’s Kennedy Center recital debut “jaw-dropping.”
The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will be performing works by Mussorgsky (Khovantchina: Introduction, “Dawn on the Moscow River”), Rachmaninoff (Piano Concerto No. 2 in c-minor, Op. 18) and Chen Qigang (“Iris devoilee” – an extraordinary concerto for full orchestra, soprano and traditional Chinese instruments.)
Since 1858, Music Worcester, Inc. has had a rich tradition of offering the finest music programming and currently offers a full season of artistically diverse and world-renowned, international music and dance performances. Concerts are performed at Mechanics Hall, Tuckerman Hall and the Hanover Theatre. For more information on this season’s program, or for tickets, go to www.musicworcester.org or call 508.754.3231. Music Worcester is located at 323 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608.