skip navigation | text only | accessibility | site map
About the Company
Founded in 1879 originally as the Shanghai Public Band, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is the oldest established ensemble in Asia. In 1919, Italian pianist Mario Paci became its conductor and expanded the ensemble into a full-scale orchestra, which was renamed in 1922 as the Shanghai Municipal Council Symphony Orchestra. It cooperated with the most distinguished musicians of its day and established a reputation before the Second World War as "the best in the Far East."

After 1949, the orchestra changed its name several times and took its current name in 1956. Distinguished conductors and soloists of have collaborated with the SSO in the past two decades, among them John Nelson, Muhai Tang, Tan Dun, Gil Shaham, Cho-Liang Lin, Lu Siqing, Yo-Yo Ma, Jian Wang, and Yundi Li. In 1998 and 2002, the orchestra performed with Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo respectively.

The SSO maintains long-standing associations with modern Chinese composers and is a staunch supporter of new music. Works by Tan Dun Chen Qigang, Bright Sheng, Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Guo Wenjing, Qu Xiaosong, and Tang Jianping belong to the SSO's repertoire. The SSO has also premiered and recorded all ten symphonies by Zhu Jian'er, its 93-year old resident composer.

Filmgoers around the globe are most familiar with the SSO thanks to its soundtrack recording of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with an original score by Tan Dun, which won both the Grammy and Oscar awards. In October 2003, Tan Dun brought the SSO to his hometown in western Hunan Province to perform The Map in front of thousands of Chinese minority people. This groundbreaking, moving live performance of The Mapwas filmed and has since been released as a popularly acclaimed DVD (Universal).

Over the years, the SSO has visited the United States, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. On October 14, 1990, the orchestra made its debut at New York's Carnegie Hall under its current music director Chen Xieyang. 2004 concert highlights included a performance at Berlin's Philharmonic Hall and an eleven-city tour of the United States.