China NCPA Orchestra
One of China’s great orchestras makes its Carnegie Hall debut in a program that features a work by Qigang Chen (music director of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing) along with Sibelius’s heroic Symphony No. 2. Haochen Zhang—gold medal–winner of the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition—is the soloist in the legendary Yellow River Concerto, a work beloved for its blend of Chinese themes, colorful Western orchestral writing, and devilishly challenging solo part.
China NCPA Orchestra
Lü Jia, Music Director and Conductor
Haochen Zhang, Piano
QIGANG CHEN Luan Tan (US Premiere)
XIAN XINGHAI Yellow River Concerto (arr. Yin Chengzong, Sheng Lihong, Chu Wanghua, and Liu Zhuang)
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2
CHOPIN Nocturne in C-sharp Minor, Op. posth.
YUANKAI BAO "Bamboo Flute Tune" from Chinese Sights and Sounds
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
This performance is proudly supported by ICBC U.S. Region.
Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.
At a Glance
QIGANG CHEN Luan Tan
According to the composer, Luan Tanrepresents “quite a departure from my usual musical territory.” The work draws inspiration—as well as its name—from a style of Chinese drama rooted in folk traditions and originating in the 1600s that was bolder and blunter than the established style of the time.
XIAN XINGHAI Yellow River Concerto
The Yellow River has long served as the mother river of the Chinese people, the spiritual totem of the nation, and an inexhaustible source of creative inspiration for many Chinese works of art. Created in the late 1960s, the Yellow RiverConcertois a classic work that extols the bravery, resolution, and heroic spirit of the Chinese nation. For nearly half a century, the concerto has been standard repertoire in the classical literature of Chinese symphonic music.
JEAN SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2 in D Major,
Sibelius’s contribution to Western musical culture has always been shifting and ambiguous. A unique mix of the old and the new, his music has inspired strikingly contradictory assessments. Written in 1901–1902 and premiered by Sibelius himself, the Second Symphony has an unmistakable “twilight-of-Romanticism” quality; it has a way of sounding lyrical even though most of the thematic material is hesitant and fragmented.
China NCPA Orchestra
The China NCPA Orchestra is the resident orchestra of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Beijing. Established in March 2010, the orchestra has performed in more than a dozen opera productions presented by its home venue each year, as well as in regular orchestral concerts throughout its own season.
Artists associated with the orchestra have included Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Myung-Whun Chung, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Fabio Luisi, Lang Lang, Stephen Kovacevich, Leo Nucci, and Yuja Wang, among many others. Lorin Maazel worked closely with the orchestra before his passing and praised the musicians for their "amazing professionalism and great passion in music." The NCPA Orchestra's performance of Maazel's mammoth The "Ring" Without Words was released worldwide on Sony Classics--the only recording the great maestro ever made with a Chinese orchestra.
The China NCPA Orchestra has gained critical acclaim for its performances in NCPA's opera productions of Tosca, Die Fledermaus, Lohengrin, Aida, and Nabucco, as well as newly commissioned works like The Chinese Orphan and Rickshaw Boy. The orchestra also has explored other contemporary music, giving the Chinese premieres of works by Toru Takemitsu and Giya Kancheli, among others, and the world premieres of many works by Michael Gordon and Augusta Read Thomas.
The China NCPA Orchestra has taken to the international stage, receiving widespread praise for its performances at the Kissinger Sommer and Schleswig-Holstein music festivals, as well as on tour in Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Daegu, Taipei, and Macau. During the 2014-2015 season, the orchestra undertook its first North American tour, performing in seven major cities across the United States and Canada under the baton of Lü Jia.
Lü Jia is artistic director of music of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), music director and chief conductor of the China NCPA Orchestra, and music director and principal conductor of the Macao Orchestra. Previously, he acted as music director of the Fondazione Arena di Verona (Italy) and artistic director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife (Spain).
Mr. Lü has conducted nearly 2,000 orchestral concerts and opera performances in Europe and the United States. He has worked with such renowned opera houses and symphony orchestras as the Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (UK), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, and many others.
A highly acclaimed opera conductor, Mr. Lü has led more than 50 productions internationally. As the first Asian conductor appointed as music director of an important opera house in Italy, he has been praised by critics and audiences alike.
In 1989, he was awarded both the first prize and jury's prize at the "Antonio Pedrotti" International Conducting Competition in Trento, Italy.
In 2007, Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano recognized Mr. Lü for his exceptional contribution to Italian culture with an official award. That same year, Mr. Lü conducted a production of Rossini's La gazza ladra at the Rossini Opera Festival.
Since his gold medal win at the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, 27-year-old Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang has captivated audiences in the United States, Europe, and Asia with a unique combination of deep musical sensitivity, fearless imagination, and spectacular virtuosity. In 2017, he received a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, which recognizes the potential for a major career in music.
A popular guest soloist with many orchestras in his native China, Mr. Zhang made his debut in Munich with the Munich Philharmonic and the late maestro Lorin Maazel in April 2013. He has also performed in China with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and David Robertson; in Tokyo, Beijing, and Shanghai with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and Thomas Hengelbrock; and in Beijing with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev, who immediately invited him to the Moscow Easter Festival. Mr. Zhang has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. In recital, he has performed at Spivey Hall at Clayton State University, La Jolla Music Society, Celebrity Series of Boston, the University of Colorado's Artist Series, Cliburn Concerts, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap's Chamber Music at The Barns, Lied Center of Kansas, and University of Vermont Lane Series, among others. International tours have taken him to cities that include Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Dresden, Rome, Tivoli, Verbier, Montpellier, Helsingborg, Bogotá, and Belgrade. His performances at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition were recorded and released to critical acclaim by Harmonia Mundi in 2009. He also is featured in Peter Rosen's award-winning documentary A Surprise in Texas: 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Mr. Zhang is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Gary Graffman. He previously trained at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Shenzhen Arts School, where he was admitted in 2001 at the age of 11 to study with Dan Zhaoyi.