South China Morning Post: Chinese conductor Long Yu to get top honour for bridging East-West gap

South China Morning Post
By Kevin Kwong

Maestro Yu who recently set up Shanghai Orchestra Academy to receive prestigious prize from Atlantic Council next week alongside Henry Kissinger, Mario Draghi and Colombia's president.

Chinese conductor Yu Long is to receive the prestigious Global Citizen Award in New York on October 1. Yu, who is principal guest conductor with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, will be honoured alongside veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger for his contributions to bridging the East-West gap through classical music.

“In 2008, for the first time in history, the China Philharmonic Orchestra performed under the baton of Maestro Yu Long at the Vatican in the Paul VI Auditorium. The concert was attended by Pope Benedict XIV and marked a giant step in bringing Eastern and Western cultures closer together,” says the Atlantic Council, a US think tank on international affairs, which gives out the annual awards.

Born into a musical family in Shanghai, Yu, 51, received his early musical education from his grandfather and composer Ding Shande and went on to study at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Hochschule der Kunst in Berlin. A musician with vision as well as a strong network around the world, Yu wears many hats and is the artistic director of the Beijing Music Festival and the China Philharmonic Orchestra, music director of the Shanghai and Guangzhou symphony orchestras, and the co-director of the MISA Shanghai Summer Festival.

Recognising the need for specialised orchestral training in China, Yu founded the Shanghai Orchestra Academy in September 2014 to offer a focus on ensemble work in Chinese musical education and training. The academy offers a number of courses that give students a chance to work with overseas orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and North German Radio Symphony Orchestra. This collaboration further cements relationships between aspiring young Chinese musicians and their counterparts in the West.

"I can't say enough about our partners in the Shanghai team. Yu Long had a vision. [He is] incredible, amazing to work with,” Matthew Van Besien, president of the New York Philharmonic, said earlier this year.

Also being honoured at the event will be Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia. Past Global Citizen awardees include actor Robert De Niro, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and the first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March 2015.