A Xinhua file photo of conductor Yu Long

EDINBURGH, Britain (Xinhua) — Music is a unique means of cultural exchange and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra hopes to blend Chinese and western cultures and send “China’s voice” across the world to show an inclusive and innovative modern China, Yu Long, a famous conductor and music director of the orchestra has said.

This year marks the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO). During the past decades, while performing classical western music, the orchestra has made great efforts to create original Chinese music works to showcase the profound Chinese culture to a global audience, Yu told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The orchestra made its debut at the Edinburgh International Art Festival on Monday evening.

As the opening piece, “Wu Xing” (The Five Elements of gold, wood, water, fire and earth), an original contemporary Chinese music work, vividly depicts an auditory image of ancient Chinese philosophical concept of coexistence and contradiction, which the audience have found stunning and experimenting.


This ancient Chinese philosophy has special significance in the current complex and uncertain international environment, Yu said.

“The Five Elements is a piece of contemporary Chinese music work, which shows a sense of inclusiveness and innovation. Through these young musicians, I hope the audience will see a modern China, or even a China in the future,” he said.

Yu said in recent years, in the field of culture, China has been playing an increasingly leading role on a global stage, just like China’s economic development, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra is an exceptional case showing this trend.

The Edinburgh International Festival, which was created in 1947, has presented breathtaking performances from some of the best musicians and artists that the world has to offer. The fact that the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra was invited to the Festival shows that the orchestra is one of the best in Asia and even worldwide.

On Jan. 8, 1879, the North China Daily News published an English advertisement, which mentioned “Shanghai Public Band.” This is seen as the birth of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the orchestra and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Press jointly released a special album of “China Symphonic Era.”


Yu Long said that in its 140 years of development, especially after the founding of the People’s Republic of China and China’s reform and opening-up, the orchestra has gradually grown into an organization worthy of respect from the world and the music industry, which also marks China’s growth and cultural prosperity.

Yu said his achievements and career development have benefited from China’s reform and opening-up, as well as its inclusive and open creative atmosphere. As a musician, he stands ready to play a more significant role in cultural exchanges between China and the West.

“As an artist, for us, of course, we pay more attention to the art. However, if our work could contribute to the development of our country, and help bring more meaningful activities in cultural exchanges, we are very willing to serve our country, and make greater contributions to the country,” Yu said.