The National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan (NCO) is a national level orchestra formed by élite figures from the world of traditional Chinese music who have pledged to explore tradition, remain rooted in localism and embrace the present. Enabling Taiwan music to take root through its creations, conveying Taiwan’s aesthetic taste through performance, with the international arena as its stage, it enhances Taiwanese traditional and contemporary music, enabling mellow and rich music to deepen Taiwan culture.
This orchestra is the former “National Art Academy Experimental Chinese Orchestra”, established in 1984 by the Ministry of Education. In 1990 its name was changed to “National Experimental Chinese Orchestra” and, in 2006, to National Chinese Orchestra. In March 2008, it came under the authority of the Council for Cultural Affairs and its name was changed to “National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan” (NCO). After the Ministry of Culture was established in May 2012, and it was formerly named “National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan”, it became a performance troupe under the authority of the National Center for Traditional Arts.
The NCO has made it to the finals of competition for the top ten annual programs named by the Taishin Arts Award Committee on four successive occasions. In 2011, the album “The Beautiful Taiwan” was awarded the Best Folk Music Album Award in the traditional music category of the 22nd Golden Melody Awards, and the album “The Joyful Taiwan” won the award for the best album package. Moreover, the album “My Heart Leaps Up” in 2012, the album “By Way of Remembrance” in 2014 and the album “NCO 30th Anniversary” in 2015 were all nominated to compete for the Golden Melody Awards in the prizes of the Best Folk Music, the Best Visual Publication and the Best Composer. The achievements are brilliant.
The magnificent ocean and the lush island inspire composers to write tunes on celebrating Ilha Formosa. Every year the NCO has been carrying on commissioning works of “New Voice of Taiwan”, inviting internationally well-known musicians like Wang I-Yu, Naoko Kachi, Li Ying, Li Che-Yi, Bernd Franke, Marcel Wengler, Chang Chiung-Ying, Lu Yun, Pan Hwang- Long and Chien Nan-Chang to create numerous productions and spectacular concerts such as “Journal of a Traveler – Taiwan”, “Listen to the Soundscape of Taiwan”, “The 12 Animal Signs of Chinese Zodiac”, “From Taroko to Dunhung”, “Fung Ying Rhapsody”, etc.
While walking on this story island, you will feel music notes sending out the warm human touch of Taiwanese and those true stories and deep feelings emerged in every corner. The concert of “Roadside Banquet” is full of the loud and exciting sound of pots, pans and bowls; “Concerts under the Banyan Trees” demonstrate the entertaining talents of narrating and singing. Chio-Tian Folk Drums & Arts Troupe brings the powerful “Battling Formation”; three good friends, Li Cin-Cin, Xiao Qing-Yang and Longnan Isak Fangas work together to compose the melody of “Story Island”. Insisting on telling the most beautiful stories of Taiwan with Chinese orchestra music, the NCO will let those stories to be continued.
With a background of Taiwan’s rich culture, the beauty of indigenous sound from the homeland of Taiwan is played. The NCO has been in collaboration with Taiwu Elementary School Chorus of the Ancient Songs on “Where is Mauliyav?”, with Taiwan Aboriginal Children Chorus on “Sing As You Wish, My Children”, with the Amis Kakeng Musical Group on “Wild Amis”. In addition, the orchestra presented “The Sound of Matsu” in Matsu, “Wind Lion God, Love of Kinmen” in Kinmen and tailored made productions – “The Colors Outside the Frame” and “Welcome The Hakka Music Concert” in the Hakka Culture Festival. The charm of the tribal tradition is conveyed through Taiwan’s most enthusiastic rhythm from the South. Let people’s attention and affection to the ethnic culture stirred up by the purest voices of the island.
We call upon traditional arts clans, to open up a multi- faceted conversation. We have set to music “Blending Music with Poetry” and “Queen Xiao-Zhuang and Dorgon” with the National GuoGuang Opera Company, and A Crossover Performance of NCO with Taiwan Bangzi Opera Company. With the legend of Taiwan opera, Bitter Dawn, we have collaborated with Master Liao Chiung-Chi on “Liao Chiung-Chi”, the Exceptional. Outstanding Taiwanese opera performers, such as Tang Mei-Yun, Hsu Ya-Fen, Chen Ya-Lan and Huang Xiang-Lian, have all taken part in the NCO’s performances. So that, in and out of the show, everything is miraculous.
Feel how the grand masters communicate with the pulse of life. One universally known name after another in the Chinese music world, Chen Cheng-Hsiung, Tang Mu-Hai, Yeh Tsung, Zhao Ji-Ping, Yan Hui-Chang, Guan Nai-Zhong, Su Wen-Ching…, noted one by one in the NCO’s musical evolution. Renowned Chinese and Western musicians are brought together to compete and perform in turn. The series of Beyond Music are set to pursue the profoundness further than perfection and achieve boundless excellence.
Entering the ground of the East Asian countries’ native music, the NCO tries to search for the splendid world of Vietnamese music, chant the ancient epic of Battle of “Dan-no-ura” in Japan’s Satsuma-biwa and praise the grassland hero on the majestic epic of “Genghis Khan”. See how the NCO transcend the extreme boundaries of music to spurt out amazing sparks of arts.
The blowing, bowing, plucking and striking of traditional Chinese music, the martial arts and physiques of Chinese opera, and plus hot children’s ballads…. The NCO has worked on several productions like “Bear’s Adventure Story “, “WHO” is Wu Song Fighting”, “Music for My Darling Babies” and “I Wish I Could Make a Wish”. These meticulously prepared concerts for parents and children expect to unlock new doors in musical education.
The NCO’s “Youth Conductor Training Program” intends to unearth and cultivate young conductors on traditional music. “The Youth Talent Screening” enables great young musicians of Chinese traditional music discovered through competition. In addition, “The Chinese Orchestra Music Composition Contest” highlights Taiwan’s gentle beauty on paper. “The Performer Series” are for performers to bring their profi up a level to accomplish perfection.
We believe deeply that music makes people blossom with smiles. Each child’s smiling face, each adult’s emotions, to enter campuses, communities, the most remote corners, to herald a beautiful era embracing music for adults and children alike.
The NCO serves all year round as a diplomatic ambassador for the nation. It performs in the major cities of Europe, the US and Asia and has graced “Singapore International Arts Festival”, “Zemplén Arts Festival”, “Sabah Chinese Music Festival”, the Taiwan Pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Central Stage in Korea, Kagoshima Citizen's Culture Hall in Japan.
As it enters its thirties, the NCO has a clear vision and firm steps. For thirty years we have followed Taiwan’s growth all the way, we strived to use traditional music to recount the best musical stories Taiwan has to offer, selecting local material and talent that can connect Taiwan with the rest of the world through music. The ultimate aim is to build a brand of orchestral music unique to Taiwan, conveying beautiful sounds from this piece of earth and letting the world hear Taiwan.
Remark: names of musicians, composers, conductors and actors are listed in order based on strokes of their Chinese surnames