MISA witnesses friendship between New York Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
Event witnesses friendship between NYPO, SSO
Published: Jul 03, 2024 11:22 PM
The opening concert of MISA  Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

The opening concert of MISA Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

Mahler, Brahms, Mozart, Copland... In Shanghai, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (NYPO) treated music lovers with two splendid nights of performances at the Shanghai Symphony Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Music in the Summer Air (MISA) festival. 

"Shanghai is one of the places where we as musicians really love to go because of the nice people, great restaurants, beautiful buildings, and a fantastic organization with a great orchestra," Jaap van Zweden, the music director of NYPO and also a renowned conductor, told the Global Times. 

"For me, to come here is always a joy and it is very inspirational to work here. We have a very strong relationship with Shanghai."

It was the first visit back to Shanghai in five years for the orchestra. Besides the two nights of performances, Van Zweden and the orchestra also held a side-by-side rehearsal with the Shanghai Orchestra Academy.

The year 2024 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US. For nearly half a century, Chinese and US musicians have been using music to push the wheel of friendship between the two countries forward. Since 2008, the New York Philharmonic has performed in Shanghai more than 20 times. 

This veteran US band has a deep relationship with MISA. In 2015, the New York Philharmonic's first overseas residency was at MISA, which also embarked on a new journey of international cooperation with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO). 

The NYPO has been here for many years now and "music connects us on an incredible level emotionally," Van Zweden noted.

"I feel very much at home here," he said, adding that the NYPO and SSO have "accomplished quite some wonderful friendships. 

"What we are doing is we are trying to inspire each other constantly," he said. "We give ourselves with our heart, our soul and our heads."

As a frequent visitor to China, the Dutch man has been to various ­Chinese cities to stage performances for ­Chinese audiences. Yet, Shanghai is a place "where you can see how successful ­China is at the moment."

If a city is a heart, then it needs four things because a heart also has four chambers. Number one is family, then comes the economy. Third is sports and fourth is culture. 

"If those four are really working well as a whole, then the body, the city is healthy. I have the feeling that Shanghai is a very healthy city," he added, joking that "you can still improve football a little." 

Conductor Jaap van Zwenden (right) and Britone Thomas Hampson Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Jaap van Zwenden (right) and Britone Thomas Hampson Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

As one of the most important classical music festivals in Shanghai, MISA each year brings various concerts, talks and master classes from the SSO to the city. 

Marking its 145th anniversary, the SSO will host performances by visiting artists and ensembles from around the world, including the NYPO, Benjamin Appl, La Risonanza and Ning Feng.

In addition to performances in the Concert Hall and Chamber Hall at the Shanghai Symphony Hall, MISA also organizes seven free Open Air events, five cultural talks and 13 "Across the City" ­activities that will see musicians ­performing at landmarks around Shanghai.

The opening concert saw music by Chopin, Brahms, Strauss, Mendelssohn and more under the batons of the orchestra's music director Yu Long and conductors Yang Yang, Huang Yi, Jin Yukuang and Sun Yifan with soloists Ning Feng, Wang Jian, Qin Liwei, Zhang Haochen  and Serena Wang.

"MISA allows every citizen living here and friends from afar to feel the vibrant musical life of this city. It is a window to the world's music culture, as well as a 'musical entry point' for the world to reach Shanghai," said Yu.

On July 15, Yu and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will return to the main stage for the MISA closing concert, where they will perform Chinese composer Tan Dun's Hero Concerto from his Martial Arts Trilogy alongside the world premiere of Elliot Leung's Wuxia, co-commissioned by the orchestra, the Chengdu Symphony Orchestra and the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra to commemorate the 100th birthday of famous novelist Louis Cha, who died in 2018.