September 2020 – June 2021

Award-winning violinist Ning Feng is the 2020/21 Artist-in-Residence 

Pianist Krystian Zimerman performs the complete cycle of Beethoven’s piano concertos conducted by Long Yu

Two world premieres: Huang Ruo ‘A Dust in Time’ (version for string orchestra) and Meng Wang’s ‘Moon-faced Buddha II’

Two concerts of Saint-Saëns’ complete piano concertos performed by five Chinese pianists, Zee Zee, Moye Chen, Jiayi Sun, Song Siheng, Yingdi Sun


Across the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons, the Orchestra will perform all of Mahler’s symphonies to commemorate 110 years since the composer’s death

Focus on Chinese voices – both established and new composers and musicians from China’s diverse and rich music scene

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO) today announces its 2020/21 season, the Orchestra’s twelfth with Long Yu as Music Director. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the Orchestra will initially perform to 30% capacity audiences at its home, the Shanghai Symphony Hall, and hopes to open this up to a larger amount towards the end of the year, depending on local guidelines. The season features 46 concerts in the Orchestra’s four major series: main stage, SSO in Chamber, Rush Hour and Music Map Class. Through these four series, the Orchestra aims to reach wider audiences and offer accessible and affordable performances. Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 and Chinese border restrictions for foreigners, the SSO’s series of visiting orchestras and artists will be announced at a later date.  

The season opens with Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’, a work specifically chosen as a tribute to those who fought against the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as to commemorate those who passed away.

Award-winning violinist Ning Feng is the Orchestra’s Artist-in-Residence for the 2020/21 season. Feng joins the Orchestra for its opening concert (1 Sep) with Music Director Long Yu to perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61. Other performances by Feng include Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 with conductor Zhang Guoyong (19 Dec) and Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61 with conductor Charles Dutoit (14 May).

This season the Orchestra has decided to focus on the voices of Chinese artists, celebrating the role Chinese musicians play on the international classical music scene. SSO will present the works of influential Chinese composers on the main stage, including Julian Yu, Ye Xiaogang, Ding Shande (whose 110th anniversary falls in 2021), Zhu Jian’er, Qigang Chen, Tan Dun and Chan Hing-yan. The Orchestra gives the world premiere of the string orchestra version of Huang Ruo’s A Dust in Time (28 Nov). 

The Orchestra will also share the stage with leading Chinese soloists, including pianists Haochen Zhang, Zee Zee, Song Siheng and Yingdi Sun, sopranos Ying Huang and Zhang Liping, baritones Shenyang and Liao Changyong, cellist Zhu Lin and more. Chinese instruments also feature, with sheng player Loo Sze-wang and zheng player Su Chang performing in works by Tan Dun and Chan Hing-yan.

Alongside its Music Director Long Yu, the Orchestra is also working with Chinese conductors including its Resident Conductor Zhang Jiemin in addition to visiting conductors Sun Yifan, Zhang Guoyong, Yip Wing-Sie and Jing Huan.

The Orchestra pays tribute to three giants of music history: Beethoven, Mahler and Saint-Saëns. 

The Orchestra continue to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, opening its season with a performance of Beethoven’s only violin concerto, played by Artist-in-Residence Ning Feng (1 Sep) and performing five of the composer’s piano concertos across three days with Krystian Zimerman (27, 29 & 31 Jan). Many of the SSO in Chamber concerts also feature works by the celebrated composer, including a selection of his piano trios, clarinet trios and string quartets. One of this year’s Rush Hour Concerts is also entirely dedicated to Beethoven’s works (14 Dec).

Marking 110 years since the death of Mahler, Shanghai Symphony begin a two-year series which sees them perform all of the composer’s symphonies across the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons. Between January and June 2021 the Orchestra performs Symphonies 1, 4, 5 and 6 with conductors Jaap van Zweden, Kent Nagano, Charles Dutoit and John Nelson.

In addition to his symphonies, SSO also present Mahler’s ‘Das Lied von der Erde’, a work which uses poems by poets from the Chinese Tang Dynasty including Li Bai and Qian Qi which was written two years before the composer’s death. The Orchestra, conducted by Long Yu for this performance, pairs Mahler’s epic work with Ye Xiaogang’s Chinese version of the work, using the original poems. The Orchestra’s motto ‘Music Connecting Worlds’ sees them strive to bring East and West together and share Chinese culture with the Western world. The soloists for this concert are Zhang Liping, Jennifer Johnston, Brian Jagde and Shenyang (13 Dec).

The music of Saint-Saëns is also a prominent theme within the 2020/21 season, with Artist-in-Residence Ning Feng performing his Violin Concerto No. 3. A highlight of the season is two concerts that feature Saint-Saëns’ five piano concertos, performed by five outstanding young Chinese pianists Zuo Zhang, Chen Moye, Sun Jiayi, Song Siheng and Sun Yingdi (23 & 24 Apr).

In addition to working with leading conductors and soloists from around the world, Shanghai Symphony also give a platform for the rising stars of the classical music world.

Throughout the 2020/21 season, SSO work with some exciting up-and-coming talent including Liu Ming, a 24 year-old violinist from Shanghai who recently won the 2019 Harbin Competition and was a prize-winner at the 2016 Isaac Stern International Violin Competition. She will be performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor (11 Oct). Conducting the performance will be Sun Yifan who makes his debut with the Orchestra having recently won first prize in the 10th International Conducting Competition Jeunesses Musicales Bucharest last year.

The Orchestra’s ‘SSO in Chamber’ brand launched in 1984, allowing a group of young Chinese artists to emerge from this stage. This season’s series of 12 concerts covers chamber works from Baroque to Modernism, presenting lesser-known and rarely performed works by well-known composers including Vivaldi, Schumann, Ligeti, Debussy and Ravel.

The chamber programme features SSO musicians as well as guest artists and ensembles including the Impression Piano Trio, Crystal Quartet, East Coast Quartet and the Polaris Quartet. A highlight of this year’s chamber series is the world premiere of Meng Wang’s ‘Moon-faced Buddha II’.


The SSO put on a pilot series of ‘rush hour’ concerts in its 2019/20 season, a brand-new concept in China, which were widely welcomed by audience members. The concept features concerts taking place from 18:30 – 19:30 on weekday evenings, giving local office workers the chance to hear some beautiful music after work, whilst still making it home for dinner.

Throughout the 2020/21 season the Orchestra will present a rush hour concert once a month, featuring accessible works performed by SSO musicians in the Shanghai Symphony Hall. Programmes cover musical themes such as romantic, piazzolla, musical jokes and Beethoven.

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Music Map’ classes are creative music experiences that integrate drama, performances and interactive games to help people remove their misunderstanding of classical music and develop an interest in listening it. Lecturer Han Bin teaches the 75-minute class through lively activities and aims to bring a new understanding of classical music to the attendees. The four classes are themed: Classical Period, Western and Oriental Music, Opera, and Dance. 
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