Born into a musical family in Shanghai, Lü Jia began studying piano and cello at a young age. He later studied conducting at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, under the tutelage of conductor Zheng Xiaoying. At the age of twenty-four, Lü Jia entered the University of Arts in Berlin, where he continued his studies under Hans-Martin Rabenstein and Robert Wolf. The following year, he was awarded both the first prize and jury’s prize at the Antonio Pedeotti International Conducting Competition in Trento, Italy, launching his career as a conductor.
Earlier this year Lü Jia was appointed Artistic Director of Music for the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) and Music Director and Chief Conductor of the China NCPA Orchestra; previously he served as chief conductor and artistic director of opera at the NCPA. He is also currently Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Macao Orchestra and has served as artistic director of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Symphony Orchestra in Spain. Lü Jia has led orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Lyon National Orchestra. He was also the first Chinese conductor to lead the Chicago Symphony.
Lü Jia was previously music director of Verona Opera in Italy, and was the first Asian conductor to serve as the artistic director of a major Italian opera house. He was chief conductor at Trieste Opera, and he has also led productions at La Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Bavarian State Opera, among others. Lü Jia was bestowed the President’s Prize by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in 2007 for his contribution to Italian culture. In 2012, he served on the jury of the Domingo International Vocal Competition.
Lü Jia was the first Chinese conductor to record Felix Mendelssohn’s complete orchestral works, and is the only conductor to record the complete works of Swedish composer Ingvar Lidholm. This performance marks his debut under San Francisco Symphony auspices.