The Guangzhou Symphony Youth Orchestra (GSYO) is an affiliate of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra. Founded in July 2011, it is the first-ever youth orchestra in China organized and administered by a professional orchestra. Since May 2012, the GSYO has been jointly run by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and the Education Bureau of Guangzhou Municipality. In July 2020, the Guangzhou Municipal Government and the Guangdong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism signed an agreement to provide a further platform for the GSYO in advancing new models of development and elevating its artistic and administrative standards.
The GSYO’s current Music Director is Jing Huan, the Principal Conductor of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, who also serves as an Executive Committee Member of Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI) and Secretary-General of Youth Music Culture Guangdong.
The Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra (GSO) is one of the most distinguished ensembles in China today. Its multi-venue facility—where GSYO trains and rehearses, guided by GSO principal players and other veteran musicians—is one of the most comprehensive and technologically advanced in China. The GSO administers the GSYO—a free orchestral training program for all participants—following management and training guidelines of a professional ensemble.
The GSYO expanded in December 2014 by adding a Junior Orchestra for 10- to 13-year-old musicians. In March 2019, the GSYO established its inaugural “Children’s Foundation Program” for 6- to 9-year-old talents, providing instrumental training starting at the beginner’s level. In December 2021, the “Children’s Foundation Program” became a joint project of the Culture, Radio, Film, Television & Tourism Bureau of Guangzhou Municipality and the GSO. This program operates as the key initial component of GSYO’s sustainable, comprehensive music education system.
From the GSYO’s inception, many musicians have lent support to its institutional and training programs, among them Long Yu (Music Director, GSO), American conductor John Nelson, Xian Zhang (Music Director, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra), Shao-Chia Lü (Conductor Emeritus, Taiwan Philharmonic), Wing-sie Yip (Music Director Emeritus, Hong Kong Sinfonietta), Zhang Guoyong (Principal Conductor, Shanghai Opera House), Yang Yang (Artistic Director, Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra; Music Director, China National Opera House), Qigang Chen (distinguished composer), Yun Chen (Concertmaster, China Philharmonic Orchestra) and celebrated violinist Cho-Liang Lin. The young musicians have also benefitted from the support of internationally acclaimed pianist Lang Lang and violinist Maxim Vengerov.
On 13 May 2012, the GSYO appeared on stage for the first time, and to date has performed more than 100 concerts at home and abroad.
The GSYO’s regular performance venue is the Xinghai Concert Hall. Beginning in September 2015, the GSYO established its own concert season, the first of its kind among China’s non-professional orchestras.
In December 2013, the GSYO and the Macao Youth Symphony Orchestra took part in a cultural exchange project, leading to joint concerts held at the Xinghai Concert Hall and a “New Year’s Concert” at the Macao Cultural Centre.
The GSYO and the Hong Kong Youth Symphonic Orchestra held a joint concert at the Xinghai Concert Hall in August 2014, with the GSYO visiting Hong Kong the following month on tour.
In August 2015, the GSYO was invited by the Municipal Government of Frankfurt and the “Young Euro Classic” Festival to perform two concerts: at the Clara Schumann Hall of the Dr. Hoch’s Konservatorium, Frankfurt for the Frankfurt-Guangzhou sister city cultural exchange with internationally-celebrated cellist Li-wei Qin and pianist Zhang Haochen, and the renowned Konzerthaus Berlin as part of the 16th “Young Euro Classic” Festival. The Orchestra’s superb performances were widely praised by German audiences and critics.
On 20 October 2016, celebrated composer and conductor Tan Dun led the GSYO for the first time at the Xinghai Concert Hall in Secret of Wind and Birds, marking the first performance of this work by a Chinese orchestra. Two days later, the GSYO participated in the 19th Beijing Music Festival and performed “In Love with Shakespeare,” a special program led by Music Director Jing Huan to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.
On 23 July 2017, the GSYO collaborated with renowned pianist Chen Sa in Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante under the baton of Jing Huan, marking the closing concert of its 2016/2017 season.
The GSYO made its critically-acclaimed 2017 Asia-Pacific tour with cellist Jian Wang and sheng virtuoso Jia Lei. On 6 August, the GSYO performed at the Sydney Town Hall in celebration of the Guangzhou-Sydney sister city relationship. On 11 and 13 August, the orchestra performed at the Aula Simfonia Jakarta and Singapore’s Victoria Concert Hall respectively.
At the GSO’s 60th anniversary and 2017/2018 season opening concert on 24 September 2017, GSO Music Director Long Yu led the GSYO in Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante with pianist Zhang Haochen, which garnered much praise.
In October 2017, the GSYO was invited by Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department to join the Hong Kong Youth Symphony Orchestra and Macao Youth Orchestra in a “Music Spectacular” at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of China.
On 6 December 2017, the GSYO was invited to perform at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, receiving much acclaim.
On 29 July 2018, the GSYO performed at Lyon’s Ancient Theatre of Fourvière to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Guangzhou and Lyon as sister cities. On 1 August, the GSYO appeared at the famed Rudolfinum in Prague to mark the fifth anniversary of Guangzhou and Prague as friendship cities. On 4 August, the GSYO was invited by the Musica Riva Festival at Lago di Guarda for their final orchestral presentation. This tour featured two special guest soloists: cellist Jian Wang and violinist Gao Can.
The GSYO made its debut in Japan on 21 July 2019 at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, with violin soloist Lü Siqing. Three days later, the orchestra performed at the Fukuoka Symphony Hall as part of a cultural exchange commemorating the 40th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Guangzhou and Fukuoka.
On 11 January 2020, the GSYO collaborated with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the opening concert of the annual Youth Music Culture Guangdong, performing three works by Johann Sebastian Bach. Later that week, Yo-Yo Ma and ensemble groups of the GSYO’s Junior Orchestra performed in six iconic Guangzhou cultural and tourist sites. Yo-Yo Ma also took part in a GSYO Children’s Foundation Program concert, sharing the stage with young cellists. All of these exciting events have attracted tremendous media and public attention.
In July 2021, to mark its tenth anniversary, the GSYO launched its first China tour. Along with violin soloist Gao Can, the orchestra performed four concerts nationwide—in Wuhan’s Qintai Concert Hall, Chengdu City Concert Hall, Xi’an Concert Hall and Jaguar Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall—presenting Austro-German masterpieces as well as iconic modern and contemporary works, displaying professional maturity and musicality far beyond their youthful years. Local media outlets lauded the GSYO for its achievements.
In July 2022, GSO and young cellist Pan Chang, sheng player Jia Lei and guzheng player Su Chang launched the orchestra’s second national tour making three stops: at Hangzhou’s Grand Canal Theater, Suzhou Bay Grand Theater and Tianjin Grand Theatre. After the Suzhou concert, GYSO President Chen Zhimin spoke as keynote speaker at the SCO Countries Youth Performance and Art Forum. GSYO’s management and operation were praised by government leaders and guests alike.
The GSYO is dedicated to discovering and creating a working model for non-professional youth orchestras. It has now become the most outstanding youth orchestra in China, shouldering the mantle of international cultural exchange and representing Guangzhou’s own culture by displaying the energetic spirit and artistic achievements of China’s youth to the world.