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National Symphony Orchestra

  • Publish Date:2022-04-01
National Symphony Orchestra

Chinese Name: 國家交響樂團
Time of Establishment: July 19, 1986
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Did You Know…?
The National Symphony Orchestra, a performing arts group affiliated with the National Performing Arts Center of the Republic of China, has been famous around the world as the Taiwan Philharmonic. Over its more than thirty years of experience, the National Symphony Orchestra has given performances spanning symphonic music, chamber music, opera, dance, and crossover productions, presenting a "voice from Taiwan" with confidence, eloquence, and cultural consciousness.

The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), formerly known as the Experimental Symphony Orchestra, was established in 1986 under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and entrusted to the administration of National Taiwan Normal University, with the aim of bringing together outstanding musicians of a new generation to create a world-class symphony orchestra. In April 2014, the orchestra became affiliated with the National Performing Arts Center, since when it has established an international presence as the "Taiwan Philharmonic."

NSO’s previous music directors, Chang Da-shen, Jahja Ling, Chien Wen-pin, and Lu Shao-chia; principal conductors Gerard Akoka and Urs Schneider; and artistic advisor and principal guest conductor Günther Herbig, have all worked to nurture the orchestra’s growth. Over the past decade, the NSO has evolved into a professional, open, and innovative orchestra, becoming one of the most iconic orchestras in Asia. In August 2021, German conductor Jun Märkl took over as artistic advisor of the NSO, aiming to use the orchestra’s unique sound to serve as a kind of cultural ambassador for Taiwan, expressing the nation’s unique identity and emotions to the world. Märkl also became the NSO’s music director in January 2022.

The orchestra is made up of 99 members and puts on some 80 performances each season. They not only serve music lovers in concert halls and theaters but also strive to bridge the gap between high art and ordinary society through more than 100 promotional events each year that reach over 10,000 people. The NSO harnesses resources from all avenues to bring music to Taiwan's mountains, forests, rural areas, care institutions, and disadvantaged communities. It also reaches out to schools and campuses at all levels, not only to provide specialist training in music, but also to foster broader participation in the arts, pass on cultural leadership, stimulate creative momentum through the arts, cultivate young audiences, and become a symphony orchestra for all.

The orchestra regularly presents international opera productions and domestic crossover collaborations, accumulating a repertoire of some 30 productions. In addition to the full-length Wagnerian opera Der Ring des Nibelungen (尼貝龍根的指環), which was performed in full in both 2006 and 2019 to international attention, NSO has also performed classic opera works by Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Puccini, Richard Strauss, Bartók and other composers; participated in crossover programs like "Kara-Orchestra (很久沒有敬我了你)," "Sunlight After Snowfall (快雪時晴)," and "Paradise Interrupted (驚園)"; and performed with the British Royal Ballet, the Ukrainian Kyiv National Ballet, the Russian Bolshoi Ballet, and Taiwan’s own Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.

The orchestra has also performed a well-received series of chamber music concerts in collaboration with resident musicians, including pianist Paik Kun-woo, composer and clarinetist Jorg Widman, composer and violist Brett Dean, violinist Paul Huang, and other groups and musicians, including the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, cellist Yang Wen-sinn, violinists Ray Chen and Richard Lin, and French horn player Radovan Vlatkovic.

The NSO additionally has a long history of promoting the music and operatic works of Taiwanese composers through commissioned compositions and recordings. Since 2011, the NSO has toured widely abroad, including performances in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Lyon, Brussels, Milan, Udine, Geneva, Warsaw, and Linz, receiving international critical acclaim.

Over the past 30 years, the NSO has worked with over a thousand internationally renowned guests, including conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Rudolpf Barshai, Sir Neville Marriner, and Leonard Slatkin; vocalists like Mirella Freni, Ileana Cotrubas, and Luciano Pavarotti; pianists Fou Ts’ong, Alicia de Larrocha, and Ivo Pogorelic; cellists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Natalia Gutman, and Mstislav Rostropovich; and violinists like Leonidas Kavakos, Gil Shaham, and Vadim Repin.

(Photo credit: Tey Tat Keng)