Orchestra academy celebrates 5th anniversary

Yao Minji
Shanghai Orchestra Academy bridges the gap between young musicians and the world's top orchestras to provide high-quality professionals for China and the world.  
Yao Minji
Orchestra academy celebrates 5th anniversary
Ti Gong

Graduates from the Shanghai Orchestra Academy perform at the fifth anniversary of the academy and their commencement.

Shanghai Orchestra Academy celebrated its fifth anniversary with the commencement of 10 graduates on Monday.

The academy is a new approach in China to train fresh graduates from music conservatories who often lack stage experience to become professional orchestra musicians through a two-year program and international partnership.

It is a collaboration between Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Yu Long, the SSO’s music director and the academy’s founding president, was concerned about lack of professional classical music performers back in 2011, when he saw the classical music scene in China expanding rapidly and in urgent need of more musicians. 

He was in discussion with the New York Philharmonic for a long-term partnership, and the two sides soon agreed to make this education project as a priority, later joined by Shanghai Conservatory of Music. 

The academy started recruiting in September 2014. It has recruited 75 young musicians since it was founded, and about 90 percent of the graduates went straight to orchestras around China and some abroad.

“The greatest thing about this academy is that we have explored a new standardized system in China to bridge between music graduates and high-quality orchestra musicians to provide high-quality professional musicians for China and even for the world,” Yu said.

The curriculum includes vast amounts of practice and performances, and also provides courses like career planning, stage mental health and how to best avoid fatigue.

The students are also taught by musicians from top orchestras around the world, and provided with opportunities to play with them. The New York Philharmonic sends musicians to Shanghai four times a year for master classes, coaching, mock auditions and seminars.

Deborah Borda, the philharmonic's president and CEO, told Shanghai Daily that she considers it a very important project and partnership. She added they can also learn from the young musicians, such as exploring new ways in the digital era to communicate classical music.

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