The 10th Anniversary of MISA: To Entertain, and to inspire
The music festival is a way to pay tribute.
Holding a season concert at every weekend, or opening live recordings’ online watching/listening to the public, this will be enough for an orchestra to draw attention and for the audience to take what they needs. But, we still want a ceremony to allow us to come close to classical music in our time together and to pay tribute to this art with several hundred years’ history.
This ceremony of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra was inaugurated in the summer of 2010. Looking back on the past ten years, we turned out to have done more works than we expected! It was hard for us to image having such gratification and sentiments ten years ago: Long Yu, our music director, his original wish was to introduce classical music to the young audience in diversified and interesting ways. Therefore, he gathered his musician friends to have a joyful party after the concert season. On the other hand, we did not expect we were doing such an exacting job. Because we had to keep a comparatively high standard while bringing forth the new. We think what we have done was not good enough, and we are clear where its shortness was. The most difficult thing is, we are eager to explain what kind of music festival that 10-year-old MISA is, or in academic language, to give it an artistic identity. As its “parent”, please let us describe how we have raised this “child”:
In MISA, We will present performances both to entertain the majority of audience in order to seek popularity, and to inspire the audience. To entertain is energy-consuming, and to inspire is mind-bending.
During the past ten years, MISA has invited many popular stars, such as Daniel Barenboim (2011), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (2010-2012), Chris Botti (2013), Laura Fygi (2014), Jessye Norman (2014), New York Philharmonic (2015-2019), Shunji Iwai (2016), Wynton Marsalis (2017), Alexandre Desplat (2018)… These names have attracted numerous fans for MISA and classical music.
Meanwhile, it’s another major task for the festival to inspire classical music audience.
During the past ten years, MISA has produced a dozen of “exclusive” concerts. They were not all large-scale, but each of them was worth cherishing:
In Noye’s Fludde, a Benjamin Britten’s Opera for amateur players, MISA gathered four student orchestras and choruses in Shanghai, combined the story in Genesis and traditional Chinese myth to produce an outdoor live opera.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of trilogy movie Trois Couleurs, we invited composer Zbigniew Preisner to rearrange his legendary film music. We firstly present the entire work in concert in memory of these great movies which explored the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Dating back to 2013, Gong Linna was still a controversial singer. She won praises from music professionals while being muttered disapprovals from some presses and sponsors. MISA invited her to work with Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO), becoming the first Chinese classical music institution to do so.
Chinese animation film Secret of the Heavenly Book is a milestone in Chinese film history, and its music is a pearl forgotten by the mainstream audience. MISA spent one year to arrange its sheet music to produce a live movie concert. This production has received invitations from several places including Xiamen and Singapore.
Eminent composer Steve Reich, aging 80, gave his Chinese debut to MISA. He not only guided the musicians of SSO to rehearse two of his masterpieces, but also played the overture in the concert by himself.
MISA bravely chose to interpret Stanley Kubrick’s gifted but hard-to-understand movie 2001: A Space Odyssey among an upsurge to rearrange blockbuster movies into symphonic concerts, making Richard Strauss and György Ligeti’s music resound through the festival.
We invited legendary rock band Underground Velvet to have a reunion concert with musicians of SSO. And other crossover singers who performed in classical instrumental concerts in MISA including Ute Lemper, Mariza, Jens Lekman, etc.
MISA commissioned percussionist and composer Andy Akiho to write a Ping Pong Concerto which won 4 million clicks on YouTube. And we commissioned piano wizard Frazil Say to composer the Chinese Rhapsody, which was performed for several times on major international stages.
Except concerts, MISA has closely worked with young people and students since its born. Growing on this platform, Shanghai Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Youth Choir, and Shanghai Youth Chinese Orchestra has regular annual rehearsal plan now. Dozens of pieces composed by students have been interpreted on the festival’s stage after selection and guidance. Thousands of young volunteers have worked in MISA; some of them joined the music industry later, but more become regular audience of the festival.
As the 10th anniversary drawing nearer, we are more uneasy than excited. Looking back on past 2018, there were almost 20 music festivals in North America had been stopped holding, among which were Lincoln Centre Summer Festival with 22-year history and FYF-Fest with 14-year history. MISA is deeply grateful to Shanghai Municipal Education Committee for its trust since we jointly established this festival in 2010, and its guidance on the youth projects. Moreover, MISA is more confident to pursue public praise thanks to our chief sponsor Shanghai Pharmaceuticals for its generous support.
An ideal status for a music institution is the audience has trust on us and we have expectancy on them. Let us keep doing so in the next decade.

SSH Concert Hall
Shanghai Symphony Chamber Hall
Shanghai Urban Music Lawn