Shanghai Orchestra Academy Celebrates Fifth Anniversary With Commencement Ceremony
Shanghai Orchestra Academy (SOA) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the commencement of 10 graduates on Monday, July 1. SOA is a collaboration between the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Shanghai Conservatory of Music. It provides a new approach in China to train fresh graduates from music conservatories to become professional orchestra musicians through a two-year program and international partnership.
The academy was founded after Long Yu, the SSO's music director and the SOA's founding president, became concerned about the lack of professional classical music performers in 2011, when he saw the classical music scene in China expanding rapidly and in urgent need of more musicians. He entered a discussion with the New York Philharmonic for a long-term partnership, and they both agreed to make the education project a priority and were later joined by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
Shanghai Orchestra Academy began recruiting in September 2014 and has since recruited 75 young musicians. Approximately 90 percent of the graduates have gone straight to orchestras around China and some abroad.
"The greatest thing about this academy is that we have explored a new standardized system in China to bridge between music graduates and orchestra musicians to provide high-quality professional musicians for China and even for the world," Yu said.
The academy's curriculum includes vast amounts of practice and performances, and also provides courses like career planning, performance mental health, and how to best avoid fatigue.
In addition to working with academy faculty, the students are also taught by musicians from top orchestras around the world and provided with opportunities to play with them. For example, the New York Philharmonic sends musicians to Shanghai four times-per-year for master classes, coaching, mock auditions, and seminars.
Deborah Borda, New York Philharmonic's President and CEO, considers SOA a, "very important project and partnership." She believes that the New York Philharmonic can also learn from the young academy musicians, such as exploring new ways in the digital era to communicate classical music.
The Shanghai Orchestra Academy resumes classes and performances in September for the classes of 2018 and 2019.