Launched in September 2014, the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Partnership is a joint endeavor of the New York Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Starr International Foundation continues as the Presenting Sponsor.

The partnership includes annual New York Philharmonic tours in China — including appearances at Shanghai’s Music in the Summer Air (MISA) festival, Guangzhou’s Xinghai Concert Hall, and Nanjing’s Jiangsu Centre for the Performing Arts — and Philharmonic musicians teaching at the Shanghai Orchestra Academy (SOA), established in 2014 through the partnership, four times each season, including in the summer. In addition, SOA students may be selected by audition to travel to New York City to participate in the New York Philharmonic Zarin Mehta Fellowship Program, a week-long immersion in the life of an orchestral musician.

Shanghai Orchestra Academy

Shanghai Orchestra Academy

The Shanghai Orchestra Academy 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. The SOA 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.

The SOA offers classes such as 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 during its annual performances in Shanghai, or through the New York Philharmonic Zarin Mehta Fellowship Program 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 to the SOA is open to students from around the globe; SOA students have been trained in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, and the US. The student body has included violinists, violists, cellists, double bassists, flutists, clarinetists, oboists, bassoonists, horn players, trumpet players, trombonists, tuba players, and percussionists. The SOA graduated its first class on July 5, 2016. The SOA’s third graduation ceremony was held on July 5, 2018.

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


New York Philharmonic Performances

Shanghai Orchestra Academy

The summer of 2018 marked the New York Philharmonic’s fourth visit to Shanghai as part of this partnership, and future visits will include tours to other cities in China. The Orchestra returned to the MISA festival for four concerts, July 1–7. Music Director Designate Jaap van Zweden led the Orchestra in the 2018 MISA festival’s opening concert featuring music by Bernstein and Mahler — two of his predecessors on the Philharmonic podium — and also conducted masterpieces by Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky. Bramwell Tovey led the Philharmonic’s final concert, a celebration of former Philharmonic Music Director Leonard Bernstein in his centennial year.

Education activities in the 2018 visit included a side-by-side rehearsal of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with the New York Philharmonic joined by SOA students, and Very Young Composers of Shanghai participating in a workshop and performance. 

Highlights of the past three visits include:

2015 — superstars 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
Several — Very Young Composers workshops and performances, plus Young People’s Concerts hosted by Dashan

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Starr International Foundation is the Presenting Sponsor of the 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.