A brand-new 1,200-seat symphony hall, designed by Isozaki Arata and Yasushisa Toyota, will greet the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO) as it begins its 2014-15 season on September 6.
The season will include more than 100 concerts either performed or organized by the orchestra, and pianist Lang Lang will be the artist in residence.
Well-known conductors like Zubin Mehta, Charles Dutoit, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Krzysztof Penderecki will cooperate with SSO during the season, while top visiting orchestras will include Wiener Philharmoniker, Orchestre de Paris, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Munchener Philharmoniker and NDR Sinfonierorchester.
The schedule is a big step up for the orchestra, as it performed only 30 concerts a year in the past, mainly at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center and Shanghai Grand Theater.
This year the full orchestra will play 35 times, and its smaller chamber orchestra and other sub-groups will give additional performances. Scheduling so many events can be stressful, but it’s worthwhile, says Zhou Ping, SSO’s vice president.
“As an orchestra with a symphony hall, it is our obligation to bring our own artistic aspiration to the works that we present, rather than leaving most of our schedules to venue-renting programs,” says Zhou.
He says the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra plans to perform about one-third of all events at the symphony hall and arrange another one-third of the events itself. The remaining will be produced by others who rent the facility.
The new season will open with the Shanghai Symphony Hall Inauguration Concert by SSO on September 6. The orchestra will be conducted by its artistic director Yu Long, while Lang, Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov and Hungarian mezzo-soprano Ildiko Komlosi join on stage.
The program will include “Instants d’un Opera de Pekin,” which was written for this inaugural concert by Chinese composer Chen Qigang. Chinese elements and melody are widely used in combination with symphonic composing skills.
Chen’s violin concerto “The Butterfly Lovers,” Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” and Verdi’s “Nei giardin del bello” from “Don Carlo” will also be staged.
Crossover music will be another highlight of the new season. Concerts will include a performance by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, a jazz-style interpretation of classics by Uri Caine, and the symphonic poem “Diaries of Hope” inspired by the diaries and poems of children who died in World War II.
The show time at Shanghai Symphony Hall is moving an hour later, to 8pm, in consideration of downtown traffic. With the new schedule, most spectators will be able to take their time and have dinner before reaching the concert, then still take public transport home when the concert ends around 9:30pm.
“Music is joyful. We hope that our audiences can enjoy the concerts in an easier mood,” says Chen Guangxian, president of SSO.