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Classical orchestra to be first up at new Poly Grand Theater
By Li Anlan

THE premiere season of the newly completed Shanghai Poly Grand Theater will open with the German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra presenting Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” on September 30.

South Korean conductor Chung Myung-whun will take the baton on the opening night, together with young Chinese pianist Zhang Haochen, who will perform the piano concerto.

Chung began his musical career as a pianist, making his debut with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 7. In 1974, he won second prize at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow.

After he studied at Mannes School and Julliard School, Chung was appointed Carlo Maria Giulini’s assistant in 1979 at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and became associate conductor two years later.


Since 2000, Chung has held the position of music director for the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

“Chung is an elite conductor in the world, and definitely one of the top three in Asia,” says Qin Tiji, manager of the Shanghai Poly Grand Theater, adding that he has conducted most of the leading orchestras in the world.

The 24-year-old pianist Zhang is a young star from Shanghai who won first prize in the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, being the youngest as well as first Asian to win the competition. Zhang studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Gary Graffman, who also taught Lang Lang and Wang Yujia.

During the opening season, Grammy winner Rhonda Larson will hold a flute recital on October 3, and renowned pianist Fou T’song will host a recital on October 28.

In September, Shanghai will open two new theaters, the other being Shanghai Symphony Hall. By coincidence, both venues chose Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” for the inaugural concert.


Shanghai Poly Grand Theater was designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, and took four years to build. It sits adjacent to Yuanxiang Lake, making it the first theater in Shanghai to have a waterfront view. It will have a stage by the water when it opens.

The theater will host mainly concerts and operas while working to nurture a local audience base. Ticket prices will be held down because Poly theaters have lower average costs through centralized purchase.

“Every performance will have at least 140 tickets lower than 80 yuan,” says Qin.

The three-month premiere season will see more than 20 performances. In addition to classical concerts like symphonies and recitals, Shanghai Poly Grand Theater will also showcase drama, dance and even popular music programs.

Some other performances like the dramas “En Folkefiende” and “Romeo and Juliet,” musical “The Enchanting Shadow” and the Shanghai Hinmory Chinese Traditional Chamber Orchestra concert are designed to satisfy different audience groups.


“We’d like to build an art platform closer to the public,” says Qin.

Shanghai Poly Grand Theater will start selling tickets for the new season on Sunday. The cheap tickets below 80 yuan will be limited to one per person.


Coming performances

• September 30 — Chung Myung-whun and German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

• October 3 — Grammy winner Rhonda Larson’s flute recital

• October 6 — Drama “Five Acts of Life” (Lao She’s short stories)

• October 11-12 — Song and Dance “Medley-Dynamic Yunnan” 2014

• October 15 — “Dream Night — The Best Magical Performance”

• October 28 — Fou T’song Piano Recital


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