The Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Partnership is a joint endeavor of the New York Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Starr International Foundation has been the Presenting Sponsor of the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Partnership for six years.

The Philharmonic regrets that its annual performances and other activities in China cannot take place in the summer of 2020 in order to protect its audience, musicians, and employees from COVID-19. The visit to China has been postponed until the summer of 2021.

To continue this vibrant partnership despite the inability to travel, this summer the New York Philharmonic is continuing its participation through a series of virtual activities. In addition to reviewing audition tapes for the next class to matriculate at SOA:

  • Approximately 50 Philharmonic musicians join around 30 SOA students to form an online orchestra in a virtual side-by-side performance of a selection from the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, Pathétique.

  • Philharmonic Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, Principal Flute Robert Langevin, and Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi give one-on-one masterclasses, to be shared with SOA students and with students at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and non-professional young players.

  • SOA introduces Sound of SOA, past chamber music performances by Philharmonic musicians and SOA students. Each of the seven videos features an introduction by a Philharmonic musician who participated in the performances. They are Concertmaster Frank Huang, Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, violist Vivek Kamath, cellist Patrick Jee, Principal Flute Robert Langevin, Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi, Associate Principal Trombone Colin Williams, and Principal Tuba Alan Baer.

Launched in September 2014, the partnership includes annual New York Philharmonic appearances in China — with the most recent, in 2019, including a return to Shanghai’s Music in the Summer Air (MISA) festival for two performances, plus the Orchestra’s debuts in Guangzhou and Nanjing. While in Shanghai, there was intensive instruction by Philharmonic musicians at the Shanghai Orchestra Academy (SOA), established through the partnership.

Shanghai Orchestra Academy

The SOA is a two-year, post-graduate program designed to address the need for advanced orchestral training in China. New York Philharmonic musicians travel to Shanghai four times each season for master classes, coachings, mock auditions, and seminars. It is a joint effort of the New York Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in partnership with the Shanghai Conservatory and under the leadership of founding president Long Yu.

Classes include Orchestra Performance, Chamber Music, and Musicianship Skills for Orchestral Performance. Highly qualified students may have the opportunity to play with musicians from the New York Philharmonic in Shanghai, or as New York Philharmonic Zarin Mehta Fellows in New York City. The most recent group of Zarin Mehta Fellows came to New York in June 2018 and participated in the Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer.

The SOA provides different levels of scholarships to all of its students, and graduates receive a Master of Fine Arts in Orchestral Performance.

Admission is open to student instrumentalists from around the globe; SOA students have previously been trained in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, and the United States. The SOA graduated its first class on July 5, 2016.

For information about application and auditions, fees, scholarships, and more, visit


New York Philharmonic Performances

In the summer of 2019 Jaap van Zweden conducted all of the Philharmonic’s performances, June 27–July 3, featuring masterpieces by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Shostakovich. He also led a side-by-side rehearsal with SOA students joining the Orchestra. The Philharmonic also presented a Very Young Composers workshop in Shanghai, and gave concerts, led by Jaap van Zweden, in Guangzhou and Nanjing.

Highlights of past visits include:

2015 — Joshua Bell, in an all-American program, and Emanuel Ax, plus the opening of the Chamber Hall
2016 — a live-to-film performance of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, Daniil Trifonov as soloist, and the New York Philharmonic Principal Brass Quintet in a free outdoor concert
2017 — the Asian Premiere of Wynton Marsalis’s The Jungle (Symphony No. 4) and a performance by Yefim Bronfman
2018 — Jaap van Zweden’s first Philharmonic appearances in Shanghai, including concerts saluting past Music Directors Leonard Bernstein and Gustav Mahler
Several — Very Young Composers workshops and performances, plus Young People’s Concerts hosted by Dashan

View slideshows and videos

Starr International Foundation is the Presenting Sponsor of the New York Philharmonic–Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Partnership.

Additional support is provided by Shirley Young / US-China Cultural Foundation, The Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation, Inc., an anonymous donor, and other gifts.

Major support for Very Young Composers is provided by Susan and Elihu Rose.