The founding of the China Philharmonic Orchestra marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of symphonic music in China, now a leading musical center of the world. The CPO recruits players from within China and internationally. With its unswerving commitment to quality and determined ambition, it now ranks as one of the largest and most well-known orchestras in Asia.
On December 16, 2000 the CPO gave a highly acclaimed inaugural concert in Beijing under the baton of its artistic director, Maestro Long Yu. The CPO's inaugural season included a broad selection of repertoire including the world premiere of Philip Glass’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, performances of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, and the Chinese premieres of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust and Du Mingxin's Symphonic Peking Opera Female Generals from Yang Family, commissioned by the CPO. Subsequent seasons under the inspiring baton of Maestro Long Yu have included Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" featuring nearly one thousand musicians, a cycle of major orchestral works by Beethoven, complete cycles of Mahler and Dvoøák symphonies, and a semi-staged production of Bizet's Carmen with Long Yu serving as both the conductor and stage director.
In addition to its extensive performances in China, the CPO has toured since 2002 to over thirty countries. Performing in major venues such as Avery Fisher Hall in New York, Palais Garnier in Paris, Barbican Hall in London, Berlin Philharmonie, Der Musikverein in Vienna, and elsewhere in Italy, Poland, and Japan, the CPO has impressed audiences worldwide and won the respect of the international press. The New York Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine have praised the CPO as the pride of China and its culture, having earned a place among the top orchestras of the world. In May 2008 the CPO performed Mozart’s Requiem at the Vatican in honor of Pope Benedict, an event that transcended cultural and political boundaries. The CPO continually and successfully collaborates with prominent musicians around the world, including Krzysztof Penderecki, Charles Dutoit, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Okko Kamu, Sir Mark Elder, Claus Peter Flor, Muhai Tang, Lan Shui, Lang Lang, Yundi Li, Mikhail Pletnev, Emanuel Ax, Kun Woo Paik, Anatol Ugorski, Gerhard Oppitz, Gary Graffman, Itzhak Perlman, Nigel Kennedy, Augustin Dumay, Sara Chang, Cho-Liang Lin, Mischa Maisky, Josef Silverstein, Jian Wang, Sabine Mayer, Placido Domingo, Renée Fleming and Cheryl Studer.
In 2009, the China Philharmonic Orchestra was selected by Gramophone as one of “the world’s 10 most inspiring orchestras” along with the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic. Gramophone praised the CPO “for almost single-handedly bringing Western classical music to the ears and hearts of a vast nation, for whom it had been forbidden for decades. They have taken it upon themselves to educate the country, and (alongside others) are making a pretty good job of it.”
The CPO led by Long Yu has produced many acclaimed recordings under the Deutsche Gramophone label including Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture, Schoenberg's orchestration of Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G minor, and the Piano Concerto Yellow River performed by Lang Lang.