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The Haifa Symphonic Orchestra is pleased to have Shanghai-born Pianist-turned-conductor, Xu Zhong, perhaps one of the most regarded conductors in the world today, lead it to continued glory.

Recently Haifa’s cultural lovers seem happier than usual as they make the monthly trek to the auditorium to take in a concert of the Symphonic Orchestra; the reason is that one of China’s most prominent conductors has landed to guide the local orchestra. Shanghai-born Pianist-turned-conductor, Xu Zhong, is perhaps one of the most regarded conductors in the world today.

Mayor Yona Yahav, a staunch supporter of the local Philharmonic Orchestra and a fan of the opera is credited with the feat of landing Zhong. “This move signifies the next step in the Haifa–China love affair that manifests across all walks of life from academia to high-tech and now in culture as well,” says Yahav, obviously proud of the deep ties he has managed to cultivate.

“It is a great honor for the Haifa Symphony Orchestra to have such a person of stature join as our musical director and chief conductor. I am sure Xu Zhong will lead us to new heights and greater accomplishments,” says Motti Eines, the robust general director of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra.

Eines, a musician himself who took over the Orchestra 7 years ago as its general director has made drastic changes both locally and internationally. Early in the year the orchestra completed their first American tour that included 37 shows in 17 states. Locally, the past few years have been marked by a significant and evidenced effort to make the high-brow culture more accessible to different segments of the population.

“Most subscribers to the Orchestra tend to be older. We feel it’s very important to introduce the younger generations to the Classics. If you expose them early, some will love it for a lifetime,” concludes Eines.

Nothing stands out more in this regard than their recent collaboration with the Cameri Theatre, Israel’s premiere theatre ensemble and home to a wide roster of Israel’s leading actors. “Every day when I wake up, I seek to do something that I haven’t done before,” adds Eines. And indeed, the collaboration was well received locally and managed to bridge different cultural audiences and plough new territory.

The Orchestra is also very active with schools, and together with the Municipality’s educations branch and the Ministry of Education they create several events yearly that bring the kids to the Auditorium to experience their first taste of Classical music.

Operating under the municipality’s subsidiary company responsible for cultural activities, Ethos, the Orchestra is funded in large part by the municipality, the Ministry of Culture as well as ticket sales and the revenue it generates from its licensing of the café. As part of Ethos, the Orchestra greatly benefits from the other cultural bodies that abound in the city as well as contributing to the overall mosaic of the city’s liveliness.

The orchestra’s season runs from early October till early summer at the Haifa Auditorium in the Carmel Center.

Currently, the Orchestra is playing a popular and light version of “The Bat” Opera by Strauss, which has been greatly received by the Orchestra’s subscribers and general public.