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

Launched in September 2014, 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 — with instruction by Philharmonic musicians at the Shanghai Orchestra Academy (SOA), established through the partnership. In addition, SOA students may be selected by audition to be Philharmonic Zarin Mehta Fellows, who travel to New York City for a week-long immersion in the life of an orchestral musician.

Shanghai Orchestra Academy

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 US. 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

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, July 1–7. Music Director Designate Jaap van Zweden led the Orchestra in the 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 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 — superstar 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

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.