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China’s Guangzhou Symphony Music Director Steps Down

Chinese conductor Long Yu will leave the orchestra this year, following a 20-year tenure as its music director


Announced at the recent 20th-anniversary concert of conductor Long Yu and the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra (GSO), Yu has officially stepped down as music director of the ensemble.

However, Yu will remain with the organization, serving as GSO’s lifetime honorary music director, and as the chairman of GSO’s Art Committee. He will also be involved with the orchestra’s artistic development and business construction.

Part of his decision to step down was in consideration of the long-term development of GSO and his hope that the younger generation would step forward. Yu will be succeeded by 37-year-old conductor, Huang Yi — currently GSO’s music director designate.

Held at the Xinghai Concert Hall, the 20th-anniversary concert reproduced the program from 20 years ago (Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5), when Yu first assumed the music director post. Since then, he has led the orchestra in countless historical moments in Guangdong province.

Yu’s 21 seasons with GSO, from May 2003 to the end of the current season, have involved the GSO collaborating with 694 guest musicians and performing 154 concerts — including 591 works across 23 countries. GSO is the only Chinese orchestra that has performed on five continents.

He has also served as music director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, artistic director and chief conductor of the China Philharmonic Orchestra, and principal guest conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

Additionally, Long is the founder of the Beijing Music Festival and was its artistic director from 1998 to 2018. He also serves as co-director of Shanghai’s MISA Summer Festival.

His conducting engagements have included the New York Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bern Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. 

“The 20 years between Director Long Yu and [GSO] have been 20 years of unremitting efforts and forge ahead, and 20 years of going hand in hand through rivers, lakes and seas. [GSO] has grown from a local orchestra to an internationally renowned top Chinese orchestra,” said Chen Qing, head of the Canton Fair trade. “Guangdong’s cultural soft power has made due contributions to the prosperity and development of China’s symphony music industry, and to telling Chinese stories to the world.”

“After exactly 20 years as Music Director of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, it brings me immense pride to announce that conductor Huang Yi will be taking over the baton next season,” Yu wrote on Facebook. “It has been one of the great joys of my career to watch the GSO develop into one of China’s most artistically superb and vibrant orchestral institutions.”

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