Founded and supervised by the Chang Yung-Fa Foundation, the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra (ESO) is exceptional in being the only professional orchestra in Taiwan overseen by a private foundation, and one of but a few of its kind on the international stage. Young and energetic, full of team spirit and discipline,and characterized by outstanding professionalism and a unique style, the ESO’s mission is to offer the public superior performances of classical music by training and employing local talent. We are devoted to fostering young musicians and cultivating an environment and outlook that is both rooted in Taiwan and open to the world, an aspiration that is amply reflected in our musical repertoire.
In 2001, the Chang Yung-Fa Foundation invited a number of Chinese musicians and eminent international arts consultants to help form the Evergreen Orchestra, which initially consisted of 20 members. This was expanded to a full-blown symphony orchestra with 71 members in 2002: the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra (ESO). Its first two music directors were Kek-tjiang Lim (2002-2004) and Ya-hui Wang (2004- 2007), the first woman to hold such a position in Taiwan. Since 2007, the post of music director and chief conductor has been held by Gernot Schmalfuss, former guest conductor of the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra.
The ESO is one of the few symphony orchestras in the world that have, on different occasions, worked with all of the Three Tenors: Jose Carreras, Plácido Domingoand the late Luciano Pavarotti. But the list of international artists who have collaborated with us is much longer than that, including, among others, the conductors Helmuth Rilling and Michiyoshi Inoue, the tenors Andrea Bocelli and Russell Watson, the sopranos Angela Gheorghiu, Renée Fleming and Hayley Dee Westenra, the violinists Cho-Liang Lin, Si-Qing Lu and Mayuko Kamio, and concert flute maestro Peter-Lukas Graf.
In 2005 and 2006, the ESO was shortlisted for the 16th and 17th Golden Melody Awards in the categories “Best Classical Album” and “Best Instrumental Performance,” respectively. Also in 2005, we invited preeminent violinist Zakhar Bron to hold a master class and give a number of concerts in Taiwan. Moreover, the ESO was selected as one of the beneficiaries of the Council for Cultural Affairs Performing Arts Development Project in 2006. In 2009, we invited four former winners of the prestigious Premio Paganini violin competition to Taiwan for a series of concerts and activities: Si Qing-lu, Bin Huang, Mengla Huang, and Feng Ning. We hope that all these efforts not only help to embed classical music more firmly in our society, and enhance people’s ability to appreciate good works and performances, but also allow Taiwan to connect more closely with the international world of music. Evergreen Symphony Orchestra has been co-producing classical albums since 2013 with CPO, the well-known European record company. The Antonio Cartellieri Complete Symphonies was released in 2013 and was given a rating for both artistic & sound quality of ten points by the Classics Today Insider. The Theodor von Schacht Symphonies Vol.1 was released on March 2014. More albums are to be released in the next few years.
Since 2004, the ESO has toured abroad, and today no other Taiwan orchestra has more international concert tours under its belt, including performances in Singapore, Muar(Malaysia),Tokyo, Seoul, Pusan, Geoje, Arendal (Norway),London, Los Angeles, Trieste, Ravenna, Ravello (Italy), Sydney, Brisbane, Shanghai, Beijing, Xiamen, Foshan, Wuhan, Changsha,Ningbo, Hechuan, Luzhou, Zigong, Chengdu, Chongqing, Qijiang, Nanjing, Liyang, Tianjin and Macau. In 2010, the ESO gave special performances at the Shanghai Expo. In September, 2011, Samsung Heavy Industries invited the ESO to Seoul and Busuan in South Korea for performances. In June 2012, the ESO performed at Italy’s two most famous musical events—the Ravenna Festival and the Ravello Festival. In July 2015 the ESO was invited to perform at the Sydney Opera House and the Brisbane City Hall.The ESO will continue to export Taiwan’s music culture to every corner of the global.In 2014 and 2016, the National Centre for the Performing Arts twice invited the ESO to Beijing for the 4th and 5th China Orchestra Festival. In September 2019, the ESO performed at the Saigon Opera House and Hanoi Opera House in the Vietnam.
Clearly, the ESO is taking Taiwan to the world, following in the footsteps of the Evergreen Group, whose EVA Air and Evergreen Lines have blazed many trails for linking up our island of Taiwan with the rest of the world. The ESO will continue to export Taiwan’s music and culture to every corner of the global village.