Jahja Ling

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Jahja Ling (Chinese 林望傑; is an orchestra conductor. He is of Hokchiu Chinese descent and is now an American citizen. Having conducted all of the major orchestras in the US and prominent orchestras in Europe and Asia, his distinguished career as an internationally renowned conductor has earned him an exceptional reputation for musical integrity, intensity, and expressiveness. Mr. Ling is in his 10th season as music director of the San Diego Symphony, where his work continues to receive the highest praise from the public and critics alike.

Early life[edit]

He was born 25 October 1951, Jakarta, Indonesia), began to play the piano at age 4 and studied at the Yayasan Pendidikan Musik or Music Educating Foundation, Jakarta. At age 17, after he got Rockefeller award scholarship, he studied at The Juilliard School. There he completed a master's degree and studied piano with Mieczyslaw Munz and conducting with John Nelson. He then studied orchestral conducting at the Yale School of Music under Otto-Werner Mueller and received a doctor of musical arts degree. He was a conducting fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute.[1]


Deeply committed to music education, Mr. Ling served as founding Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (1986-1993) and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (1981–84). He served as its first Music Director from 1981-1984. He and the SFSYO were selected to perform for the visiting Queen Elizabeth II on a State visit to San Francisco in 1983. Ling was on the conducting roster of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1984–2005, serving as Resident Conductor from 1985-2002.[1]

Since his acclaimed debut with The Cleveland Orchestra in 1985, Ling has conducted the orchestra in 23 consecutive seasons. he also a member of the conducting staff of The Cleveland Orchestra for 20 years, from 1984 to 2005. From 1985 to 2002, he served as Resident Conductor, leading the orchestra in over 400 concerts and over 550 works at Severance Hall, at the annual Blossom Festival, and on tour. During his tenure as Resident Conductor, Mr. Ling led the Orchestra's annual concert in downtown Cleveland, heard by more than a million people since first presented in 1990.[2]

For 6 seasons, from 2000-2005, Ling served with distinction as Music Director of the Blossom Festival, the last person to serve with that title.[3]

From 1988-2002, Ling was Music Director of the Florida Orchestra, and is now its Music Director Laureate. Since 2004, he has been the Music Director of the San Diego Symphony, with an initial contract for 5 years.[4] In October 2007, Ling extended his contract with the San Diego Symphony to 2012.[5]

Collaboration with Others[edit]

In 1979, he was rehearsing the Tanglewood Student Orchestra. In 1987 he made his Cleveland Orchestra debut and has appeared as both piano soloist and conductor with numerous U.S. and international orchestras.[1]

From 1998-2001, Mr. Ling also served as Artistic Director of the Taiwan National Symphony and in 2001 he led the Super World Orchestra in Tokyo, composed of principal musicians from 30 of the world’s premier orchestras and broadcast on NHK. In 2009, Mr. Ling also conducted the World Wide Chinese Festival Orchestra including the most accomplished Chinese musicians selected from highest-ranked U.S. and European orchestras.[1]

Acclaimed for his interpretation of works in the standard repertoire, he is also recognized for the breadth of contemporary music included in his programs. In May 2000, his debut performance with the St. Louis Symphony and cellist Yo-Yo Ma was featured on the ABC News program in conjunction with a world premiere performance of a Cello Concerto composed by 20/20 anchor Hugh Downs.[2]

Since in 2008, he has been volunteering on Reformed Evangelical ministry, in Jakarta. His first performance was conducting Inauguration Concert "Mendelssohn's Symphony no.2 "Lobgesang" and the Others of The Cathedral of Messiah in Jakarta, with his wife, Jessy Chang and Jakarta Oratorio Society on Thursday, September 18, 2008.[6] Under STEMI, he devotes himself to visit Aula Simfonia Jakarta at least once a year - usually on last semester -, he and Dr. Stephen Tong together has been ministering there until now (2013).[1] Once in a public interview with Dr. Tong, he confessed feel in debt on participating classical music education for Indonesian people, especially for young generation. Since then, Dr. Tong has been proudly saying, "Indonesian are being served by top conductor in the world, but far under paid by those whose narrow mind are assuming that he sought popularity among us, in contrast, we should afraid and thankful of God's grace who allows him has been with us today."[6]He is a volunteer Vice President of the Stephen Tong Evangelistic Ministries International (STEMI).[1]

On June 15, 2012 Jahja Ling conducted famous pianist Lang Lang 30th birthday concert with the Schleswig Holstein Festival Orchestra at O2 World in Berlin which was attended by more than 10,000 people and televised live in German and Spanish TVs. Lang Lang also recently performed with Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony at their annual 2012 OPUS Gala and together at a private event.[1] Hence, they are often seem worked together in various events.[7][8][9]

Guest Conductor[edit]

Quest conducting engagements around States of North America, include the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Honolulu, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, San Francisco, Utah, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Aspen Music Festival.[1]

Subsequently, he has appeared as guest conductor for most of the prominent orchestras in Asia and Europe including the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Malaysia Philharmonic, MDR Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, NDR Radio-Philharmonie, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Nationale du Capitole de Toulouse, Royal Philharmonic of London, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic and Tokyo’s Yomiuri Nippon Symphony.[1]

Recently he appeared at the Tivoli Festival with the Copenhagen Philharmonic, with the Bochum Symphony in Germany, China Philharmonic in Beijing, Guangzhou Symphony, and the Singapore Symphony.[6]

Recording Company[edit]

Mr. Ling’s recordings include a range of works on the Telarc, Azica Records, and Continuum labels, featuring recent recording of the works by Bright Sheng with the San Diego Symphony as well as performances by the Florida Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, one of which was nominated for a Grammy award. His performance of the world premiere of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Third Symphony with the New York Phillharmonic is included in the orchestra’s “American Celebrations” collection. Also released is a special edition CD featuring Mr. Ling and the Cleveland Orchestra performing Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 “Organ” for the rededication of the Norton Memorial Organ at Cleveland’s Severance Hall.[1]

Achievements and Awards[edit]

Most of them are adopted and compiled from his official web:[1]

In 1968, Jahja won the Jakarta Piano Competition.

In 1969, Jahja got Rockefeller Award for piano performance.

In April 1977, Jahja awarded Bronze Medal which was presented by Golda Meir, on Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition (Jerusalem, Israel).

In June 1978, Jahja receives Certificate of Honor at Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition (Moscow, Russia).

In May 1983, Addressing letter to Jahja from Mayor California Dianne Feinstein, regarding concert for Queen Elizabeth II, to conduct the San Francisco Symphony Youth Symphony in a special concert honoring Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

In 1985, He received Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductor’s Award and the Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood. Subsequently, he was selected by famous conductor Leonard Bernstein, who became one of his most influential mentors, to be a Conducting Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute.

In 1991, Jahja Ling’s other notable performances include a performance with the Florida Orchestra at Super Bowl XXV with singer star Whitney Houston. The audio and video of that performance earned platinum record status.

In September 2006, The U.S. House of representatives presented a Congressional Record of his outstanding achievements in the U.S. Capitol.

Emmy Award for a "Concert in Tribute and Remembrance" for 9/11.[10]

Nominated for Grammy Award in featuring performance with the Florida Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Personal life[edit]

His religion is Reformed Protestant, he confessed that Christianity has mostly inspired him as he is. His conversion somehow happened at teen age, before he went to the US. At that time, he has been encouraged and confirmed his vocation by counseling with Ev. Stephen Tong, one of his spiritual brothers.

It has been witnessed by a local community that he is a faithful Christian. It said, "Mr. Ling, whose first name is pronounced YA-yah, is the resident conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. He attended services at the Chinese Community Church in the early 1970's after leaving his hometown of Jakarta, Indonesia, to study piano at the Juilliard School. Now, when he's in New York with the Cleveland Orchestra or as a guest conductor for the New York Philharmonic, he always returns to the church."[11]

Jahja Ling and his previous wife, Jane, had two sons, Gabriel and Daniel. Ling's tenure as music director included some difficult times. The worst came in 1998, when his first wife, Jane, died of cancer. There also were years when financial problems and management instability threatened to put the orchestra out of business. "Many times I almost decided to leave," he said.[12]

After the mourning time for 3 years of his first wife's death, he took a second wife in 2001.[13] She is Jessie Chang, the Taiwanese Christian pianist, who has a simple life, and along with her, they have two daughters.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Jahja Ling". Jahja Ling's Official Web. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  2. ^ a b "Jahja Ling Music Director". San Diego Symphony. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  3. ^ Valerie Scher (4 September 2005). "Ling bids farewell to fest: 'It is time for me to move on'". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  4. ^ Valerie Scher (2 October 2005). "Questions hover over new season". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  5. ^ Valerie Scher (5 October 2007). "Ling's contract is renewed". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2007-11-04. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b c Reformed Millennium Center Indonesia (RMCI) or the Cathedral of Messiah Team. Inauguration Concert: Mendelssohn's Symphony no.2 - Lobgesang and Others; profile of Jahja Ling, p. 1, Reformed Millennium Center Indonesia (RMCI), Jakarta
  7. ^ "LANG LANG & JAHJA LING Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 1st". opus3863ccc. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  8. ^ "LANG LANG & JAHJA LING Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 2nd". opus3863ccc. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  9. ^ "LANG LANG & JAHJA LING". opus3863ccc. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  10. ^ "Jahja Ling Music Director". San Diego Symphony. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  11. ^ John Fielding (6 November 2003). "Ling returns to local podiums". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  12. ^ John Fleming (25 April 2002). "Jahja's finale". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  13. ^ Lois Smith Brady (7 January 2001). "Weddings: Vows: Jessie Chang and Jahja Ling". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  14. ^ John Fleming (2 April 2005). "Orchestrated moves". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Irwin Hoffman
Music Director, Florida Orchestra
Succeeded by
Stefan Sanderling
Preceded by
Jung-Ho Pak
Music Director, San Diego Symphony
Succeeded by