Why New York into Shanghai won't go

Why New York into Shanghai won't go


norman lebrecht

August 16, 2011

Many ulterior agendas lurk behind the new twinning deal between the New York Philharmonic and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Here are some of the more disquieting ones.

1 Long Yu, the Shanghai conductor, is a senior Communist Party official who was appointed music director in Shanghai without the musicians’ approval. Many, in fact, opposed his accession. How does that square with the democratic values of the New York Phil?

Long Yu
Hi-res Image #1

2 The agent behind the deal is Jean-Jacques Cesbron, president of Columbia Artist Management (CAMI, right in the pic below). JJ, as he’s known, is Lang Lang’s personal agent. Was Lang Lang party to the deal? Did he broker it? Lang Lang turns very shy when asked in interviews about Long Yu.

3 CAMI has moved in to replace IMG as Long Yu’s preferred partner. On what terms?

4 The Shanghai players are traditionally polite, the New Yorkers notoriously not. Who will be teaching what to whom?

5 How soon before Long Yu conducts the New York Philharmonic?

Credit to Brian Wise of WQXR for breaking the story.


  • Doug says:

    Here’s an idea for the NYP: why not ‘outsource’ your personnel to the Chinese like every other corporation in America does?

    Would the fat cats sitting in the audience know any better?

    The again, looking at the current NYP roster, perhaps they are already on the path to doing just that.

  • Don’t forget : Shostakovitch, Kondrachin, Rodjsventsky,Sveltanov, Rostropovitch, Richter, Oistrakh, Gilels, etc were also officially official of the regime some were really but…

    Musician’s approval : sorry but a musician has not the skill to decide who is the boss, even not to choose the dear collègues. A simple exemple : in the orchestra I worked for nineteen years as manager, the very young swiss Emmanuel Pahud was eliminated ; he is now first flute at BerlinPhil !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MWnyc says:

    Who said that the New York Philharmonic has democratic values? The Phil’s home city and country have them (or at least profess to do so); individuals who work in and with the orchestra may have democratic values. But the organization?

  • Brian says:

    I must agree with MWyc on this issue. Democratic values in the orchestra business? Surely you jest. Ask the players of the Detroit Symphony how they feel about such things.

  • FCM says:


    Surprising that CAMI’s reputation in international orchestral presenting, which NYTimes brings into great question in the above article, is not front and center to this discussion, in all the media!

    One would hope that the NYPhil promotes equity and respect as it becomes a global brand and as it grows with global partners.

    This partnership would behoove even closer scrutiny of CAMI, in light of their questioned practices.

  • ariel says:

    The only agenda here is money & survival plain and simple – to believe otherwise would be naive and ignorant .
    How can you say no to your landlord ??????? The photograph tells everything – you know who
    owns who ……Soon every second rate Chinese hack will be guesting.
    It has been reported that Lang Lang is a hero in China – should tell you what to expect .