Under the auspices of China Radio, Film and Television Bureau, the CHINA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA ("CPO") was established on May 25, 2000, on the basis of the former China Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra. Long Yu is the current artistic director and principal conductor of this leading national orchestra with 120 musicians.
The founding of the CPO marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of symphonic music in China and also the incorporation of the classical music performance in China into the family of the top musical events in the world.
In line with the standard world practice, the CPO contracts its players from both China and other parts of the world. With its unswerving commitment to quality and determined efforts, it now ranks among the largest and most promising orchestras in Asia.
On December 16, 2000, the China Philharmonic Orchestra gave a highly acclaimed inaugural concert in Beijing under the baton of its artistic director, Long Yu. The CPO's first season ran from September 2001 to July 2002, during which it offered a repertoire of different genres and styles from different periods. Among the highlights are the world premier of the Philip Glass’ Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, performances of Gustav Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, and China premiers of Hector Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust and Du Mingxin's Symphonic Peking Opera Female Generals from Yang Family, commissioned by the CPO. The 2002-2003 season's highlights include the China premiere, under the inspiring baton of maestro Long Yu, of the largest works in the orchestral literature — Mahler's Symphony No.8 "Symphony of a Thousand", featuring the over one thousand strong orchestra and choir, and the major orchestral works of "The Immortal Beethoven". The season of 2003-2004 is featured by Mahler’s Symphonies No. 2, No.3, No. 6, No.7 and No.9 thus bringing the Mahler theme to a successful conclusion; the other theme of the season is Dvorak: all his symphonies were performed to mark the 100th anniversary of the great composer’s death. One more event of special significance is CPO's semi-staged production of Bizet's Carmen — with Long Yu performing as both conductor and stage director.
No less important than its home performances, the CPO has toured, since 2002 over thirty countries and regions. Performing in such prestigious concert halls as Avery Fisher Hall, United States, Palais Garnier, France, Barbican Hall, Great Briton, Berlin Philharmonie, Germany, Grosser Saal of the Musikverein, Austria, the Senate Main Hall, Italy, the Teatr Wielki-National Opera Warsaw, Poland, Suntory, Japan, CPO impressed the common audience, music professionals and media, international as well as local. New York Times, Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungand acclaimed CPO as the pride of Chinese people and Chinese culture, deserving a place among the first rate orchestras in the world. Last but not the least, CPO performed Mozart’s Requiem on May 7, 2008 at Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican, in honor of Pope Benedict VIX, an event globally reported as art bridging cultural and political differences.
In the past eight years, the CPO’s achievement is also demonstrated by its successful cooperation with more than a few prominent musicians both domestic and overseas. Among the great names are Krzysztof Penderecki, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mikhail Pletnev, Okko Kamu, Michael Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Mischa Maisky, Gary Graffman, Anatol Ugorski, Gerhard Oppitz, Augustin Dumay, Sara Chang, Emanuel Ax, Lang Lang, Kun Woo Paik, Sabine Mayer, Josef Silverstein, Cho-Liang Lin, Jian Wang, Yundi Li, Kyoko Takezawa, Muhai Tang, Lan Shui, Klause Weise, En Shao, Jullian Lloyd Webber, Placido Domingo, Cheryl Studer and Changyong Liao.
The orchestra has recorded two CDs for Deutsche Gramophone under Long Yu's direction: one of Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture and Schoenberg's orchestration of the Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, and the other of Chinese orchestral works.