Summary of Shanghai Flute Festival

Tell us a bit about the Shanghai Orchestra Academy, when did it start and what is its purpose?

The Shanghai Orchestra Academy was established in September 2014 for orchestra training. It provides students training in private lessons, chamber music, and repertoire classes, among other things. Each student spends four semesters over the course of two years at the Academy before graduating with a Master's Degree. Every semester students can learn and play not only with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra but also with the New York Philharmonic and NDR Elbphilharmonie.

What would you say was the most exciting part of the festival?

The most exciting part was the flute ensemble. All of the flute players played together and used all of the flute family instruments. I really like the harmonies and the balance of sound. Because I seldom perform in a flute ensemble, I do not have the chance to meet very many professional flute players at once, so it was really exciting.

Can you tell us about the pieces you performed, I understand that you did an all flute version of Mozart's D Major Concerto!  What other works were performed on the concerts?

Besides the two pieces for flute ensemble, I also played the Devienne flute trio with two professional flute players from the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. In this piece, the melody is assigned to three parts, so everyone has to listen carefully and adjust the balance immediately. As the composer Francois Devienne is from the Romantic period, his music has many singing phrases and the accompaniment is very rhythmic. I think it’s a very emotional piece, so when we were practicing I always thought, "I have to sing this melody more so I can share the emotions that touch my heart with other people."

Who were the coaches and soloists at the festival? What special learning did you receive from them?

Both Zhe Hu, Principal Flute of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra; and Robert Langevin, Principal Flute of the New York Philharmonic were the coaches and the soloists in this festival. This was my first time playing the alto flute in an ensemble. Zhe Hu taught me how to play it. The air control and volume balance are different from the flute, so playing the alto flute requires me to concentrate intently on intonation and the air has to be more relaxed. I have to push the air faster so that the sound can be balanced with the flute. Robert Langevin taught me Mozart's style and some techniques that are unique to the classical period. I learned to pretend to be in that period, to think back in history and imagine the scene while playing the Mozart concerto so I don't play in another period's style. Although the melody and technique aren’t difficult, the feeling is really important.

What are the next events that you are planning with the NY Philharmonic and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra?

Members of the New York Philharmonic will be coming over for their second teaching session of the year December 11-16 where some students will be performing with them in a chamber concert on December 15. The students frequently join in performances with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

Robert Langevin with Emily Ho

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