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This year the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 140th birthday: founded in 1879, it is the oldest Chinese orchestra. Initially appearing as the Shanghai Public Band, it was renamed the Shanghai Municipal Council Symphony Orchestra in 1922 and then given its current name in 1956. A major influence on the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra was the Italian conductor Mario Paci, who took over leadership in 1919 and familiarized the Chinese musicians with Western music. At the same time, he inspired Chinese composers to write new works, ensuring that these were heard on the programs. The history of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, which soon became known as one of the finest orchestras in Asia, thus unfolded in tandem with the development of modern Chinese music. Since the late 1970s, following the end of the Cultural Revolution, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra has been especially active as a touring ensemble. It made its debut at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1990, performed for the first time in Europe as part of the Chinese-French Cultural Year in 2004, and in 2005 became the first Chinese Orchestra to appear at the Philharmonie in Berlin. Since 2009 Long Yu has served as Music Director. Under his direction, the ensemble joined the New York Philharmonic to perform as Cultural Ambassador of Expo 2010 before an audience of 100,000 in Central Park. The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra has regularly toured internationally since then: other stops during the summer of 2019 include at the BBC Proms, the Edinburgh und Ravinia Festivals, Grafenegg, and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Its home since 2014 has been in the newly built Shanghai Symphony Hall, which includes two underground concert halls. The orchestra won a Grammy Award for its recording of Tan Dun’s film score Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut on 20 August 2017, as the first Chinese orchestra to play here, with a program of works by Avshalomov, Tchaikovsky, and Shostakovich led by Long Yu.