The China NCPA Orchestra, based in Beijing, with Chief Conductor Lü Jia, bring a thrilling and colourful program to Montreal’s Maison Symphonique onThursday, November 13, for what will be the closing concert of a whirlwind North American debut tour which includes Toronto (Koerner Hall), Ottawa (Canada’s National Arts Centre), Philadelphia (Kimmel Center), Washington DC (Kennedy Center), Chicago (Symphony Center) and Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City. Established in 2010, the resident orchestra of the National Centre for the Performing Arts of China has quickly gained a reputation as one of that country’s most adventurous and dynamic orchestras. A highlight of the Montreal concert – a harmonious melding of Eastern and Western traditions – will be a performance of The Butterfly Lovers violin concerto by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang with acclaimed violinist Lu Siqing. A legendary Chinese tragic love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet, familiar to every Chinese household, the Butterfly Lovers concerto is widely considered one of the most important classical Chinese works of the 20th Century. Also on the program are The Five Elements(Wu Xing) by Chen Qigang, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G major.
Canada’s National Arts Centre is honoured to present China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra on their debut Canadian tour in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, with the generous support of Manulife Financial, Presenting Sponsor of China’s NCPA Orchestra Canada Tour. This collaboration is the continuation of a partnership between these two National arts organizations which included an NAC Orchestra performance at the NCPA in Beijing this past October, part of the NAC Orchestra’s historic 18-day China tour, the first tour of China in the history of the NAC Orchestra.
Lu Siqing, acknowledged one of the most outstanding Chinese violinists of his generation, is closely associated with The Butterfly Lovers – having made four recordings of the work which have together sold well over a million copies worldwide. Following a broadcast of Siqing’s performance of the work, Central China Television, declared the concerto “a national hit” with Lu Siqing’s performance showcasing the “expressive fire typical of his style.” Written in 1958 by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, the concerto is a synthesis of Eastern and Western traditions with melodies strongly influenced by traditional Chinese Opera. The solo violin part recalls the erhu, the Chinese two-string fiddle. Derived from Chinese folklore, The Butterfly Lovers tells the story of doomed lovers Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai. Denied their desired union by Yingtai’s father, the lovers die of despair, only to finally emerge together from their shared tomb as a pair of butterflies, never more to be parted.
A dynamic work by one of today’s leading Chinese composers, Chen Qigang, the suite for orchestra, Wu Xing (The Five Elements) (1999) is an embodiment of Olivier Messiaen’s grand idea of “a perfect fusion of Eastern philosophical emotion and Western musical expression.” Commissioned by Radio France, the “five elements” – water, wood, fire, earth, and metal – are reflected through a variety of different modes and techniques of musical expression. The NCPA orchestra will close the concert with Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G major, a lively and spontaneous work, replete with enchanting folk tunes.
The NCPA Orchestra, resident orchestra at Beijing’s landmark National Center for the Performing Arts, composed of distinguished musicians from around the world, performs more than a dozen operas and a full season of symphonic concerts each year. In February 2012, Lü Jia took on the role of Chief Conductor, succeeding Chen Zuohuang, a founding member of the orchestra and current Laureate Conductor. The NCPA orchestra prides itself on its long-term collaborations with the finest musicians of our day, including Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Valery Gergiev, Myung-Whun Chung, Gunter Herbig, Gilbert Varga, Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Stephen Kovacevich, Leo Nucci, Yuja Wang and Han-Na Chang. The late maestro Lorin Maazel praised the orchestra for its hard-working excellence and great passion. The orchestra has been acclaimed in numerous NCPA opera productions, including, in 2012, the Chinese premieres of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer and Lohengrin. The NCPA Orchestra also received widespread international praise when it was invited by Kissingen Summer Musik and Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festivals and performed concerts across Germany under the batons of Christoph Eschenbach and Chen Zuohuang, followed by a successful concert at the Sydney Opera House. Last season, the NCPA orchestra commemorated the Wagner, Verdi and Britten year (2013) with several concerts, including The “Ring” Without Words under the baton of Lorin Maazel, the live recording of which was released by Sony Music. Highlights of the orchestra's 2014 season include Verdi’sRequiem with Myung-Whun Chung, Mahler’s Symphony No.1 with Zubin Meta, and Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, Four Last Songs and Also Sprach Zarathustra with Antoni Witt, Gunter Herbig and Lü Jia.
Born into a musical family in Shanghai, Lü Jia studied conducting at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing under renowned conductor Ms. Zheng Xiaoying, followed by studies Berlin. In 1989, at the age of 24, he was awarded both First Prize and Judge’s Prize at the Antonio Pedeotti International Conducting Competition in Trento, Italy. To date, he has conducted over 2,000 concerts and operas in Europe and the Americas. He has conducted at opera houses including the Bayersiche Staatsoper in Munich, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and La Scala in Milan, and with great orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw, Chicago Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Hamburg Radio Symphony, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and numerous others. Before he returned to China in 2012, he was the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of Spains Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and the Music Director of Italy’s Verona Opera House and Arena di Verona Festival.
Hailed by The Strad as “an outstanding talent”, Lu Siqing (pronounced See-Ching) was the first Asian violinist to win first prize at the prestigious Paganini International Violin Competition in Italy in 1987. Since then, he has performed to great acclaim in more than thirty countries throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia, at many of the great concert halls of the world including the Musikverein, Hollywood Bowl, Wigmore Hall, Kremlin Palace and Suntory Hall. Over the course of his extraordinary career, he has collaborated with many of the world’s leading musicians including Lorin Maazel, Valery Gergiev, Edo de Waart, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lawrence Foster, Jaap van Zweden, Osmo Vänskä, Long Yu, Jia Lu, Shao-Jia Lu, and Jian-Wen Bin. He has appeared as featured soloist with many of the world’s great orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bilbao Symphony, Paris Sinfoniatta, Salzburg Chamber Orchestra, Washington Symphony, Toronto Camerata, Vancouver Symphony, MariinskyOrchestra, Russian National Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, among others. Born in 1969 in Qingdao, Lu Siqing began violin study at four. At the age of eight, he became the youngest student accepted by the Central Conservatory of Music and at eleven was chosen by Yehudi Menuhin to study at his school in London. In 1984 he returned to China for advanced studies at the Conservatory in Beijing, and, five years later, went on to study with Dorothy DeLay and Hyo Kang at the Juilliard School. His acclaimed recordings can be found on the Philips, Naxos and Marco Polo labels.