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Cao Peng in Tchaikovsky concert hall in Moscow

Maestro Cao Peng

Maestro Cao Peng is one of China's most distinguished conductors. Respected and revered for decades throughout Asia, he's primary musical studies were at the Moscow Conservatory of  Music under the baton of renowned professor Leo Ginsburg. In between, he had his first professional experiences as Artistic Director/Principal Conductor of the Shanghai and Beijing Film Music Orchestras. While a young man in Russia in the 1950's, Cao led a number of concerts with the Conservatory of Music Opera Orchestra and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Notable concerts featured the début of Chinese repertoire, among them the masterpiece, "Butterfly Lovers" violin concerto with the Soviet Union Broadcast Symphony.

In 1961, Cao returned to China and was appointed conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for thirty years. He is currently Music Advisor to the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Cao's other major appointments are Music Director/Principal Conductor of the Shanghai Philharmonic, and the Shanghai Chamber Orchestra. During his 50 year career, Cao has conducted numerous international and Chinese symphony orchestras as well as internationally renowned soloists, opera and dance companies.

Cao has led the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Shanghai Philharmonic on tours to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore. The Straits Times (Singapore) review noted that, "Under its music director, Cao Peng, the orchestra revealed ensemble work characterized by precision in execution as well as clarity and balance in sound. Thus, in the dramatic and virtuosic passages, such control brought out emotional depth instead of empty bombast." Cao has conducted overseas in Japan, the United States, Russia, Portugal, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. In 1990, Cao brought the Shanghai Philharmonic with him to Russia, to participate in the concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Tchaikovsky. Music Lover magazine (Moscow) enthused, "The standing ovations and encores lasted for more than thirty minutes. The dramatic intensity of the performance left a mood felt by every audience member."

Cao has worked extensively with traditional Chinese instruments, as a frequent guest conductor of the Shanghai Traditional Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and Taipei Municipal Chinese Classical Orchestra. In 1996, Cao conducted a joint performance of the Shanghai Traditional Orchestra and the Taipei Experimental Chinese Orchestra. The concert was hailed as a great event, marking the first collaboration in 40 years between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The China Times review praised Cao Peng for his " high degree of artistic and technical proficiency. His art mesmerizes."

In 1993 Cao embarked on a project with the Hong Kong HNH International Record Company to record a comprehensive series of Chinese orchestral works for worldwide release.

As a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory, Cao has trained a number of students who have gone on to become successful conductors. At present, he holds the post of Professor of Music at Tong Ji University, Jiao Tong University, which recently awarded him their highest honor, and East China University. He has lectured at The Tanglewood Festival, the Mannes School of Music and the Boston International Music Symposium in America. Cao also has been an adjudicator at many international music competitions.

In addition to his conducting and teaching activities, Cao has been a tireless advocate for classical music. These efforts led to the establishment, in 1995, of the "Cao Peng Arts Centre Foundation", which supports the tremendous renaissance of musical activity throughout China.

His government has recognized his achievements with awards and commendations including, the Chinese State Council commendation for "Outstanding Contributions in the Performing Arts", and Special Honors Award for 'Excellence in Arts'.


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