Music as a Universal Language: Long Yu and Podium Diplomacy


Long Yu, esteemed composer and the head of three orchestras, the Shanghai Symphony, the Guangzhou Symphony and Beijing’s China Philharmonic (which he founded), is an advocate for international exchange. He also helped create the Shanghai Orchestra academy, which is a partnership between the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Conservatory and the New York Philharmonic, and has spent much of his career cultivating young musicians.

Now, Yu wants to take his project to a global level by swapping 20 new works by Chinese composers with 20 new works by Western composers…by the year 2020. The project is called Compose 20:20, and it aims to increase the musical dialogue between the US and China, therefore encouraging cultural and artistic exchange.

A lot of people think China is very interesting today…But how much you know about China? How much you know about Chinese music? How much you know about the young generation?

Having spent a significant amount of time studying abroad in his youth (NPR), Yu understands the immense benefits that come with opening your mind to another culture, and wants to advocate for increased exchange and understanding on all levels.

“Because with new music, understanding is enhanced. Music is how we speak to each other without words. Like all languages, it evolves. So do we.”*

So, Pengyous, what other ‘universal languages’ have you experienced when interacting with another culture?

image credit: NPR

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