The China National Traditional Orchestra was established on February 16, 1960, in Beijing. Its organization includes a choir, a traditional orchestra, and a composition section. The first director was LI Huan-zhi, and the first conductor was QIN Peng-zhang, among others. The traditional orchestra had a formation of up to 90 musicians. The artists collected and learned dozens of folk music genres, and they processed, organized, adapted, and created new works based on these authentic artistic expressions. They were able to perform various regional instrumental ensembles, such as “Jiangnan Silk and Bamboo Music”, “Guangdong Music”, “Hebei Wind Music”, “Suzhou-Nanjing Wind and Percussion”, “Xi’an Drum Music” as well as various local percussion-music. They were also capable of performing large traditional instrumental orchestra new pieces. The choir excelled in performing modern and adapted Chinese classical works, as well as choral adaptations of folk songs.
In 1983, through institutional reforms, LIU Wen-jin, ZHAO Yong-shan, and others served as artistic directors, while YAN Hui-chang, WEI Jun, LIU Sha and others were the main conductors. The position of director has been held by TANG Rong-mei, LIU Wen-jin, YU Song-lin, GU Xia-gang, XIE Qiang, and the current director is ZHAO Cong. Over the years, the orchestra has also had a group of outstanding artists who have achieved remarkable accomplishments and influence, such as WANG Tie-chui, WANG Ci-heng, NING Bao-sheng, WANG Hui-zhong, ZHU Jia-ming, LI Guang-cai, WU Yu-xia, ZHOU Yao-kun, TANG Feng, ZHANG Xin-hua, WEI Yu-ru, ZHU Xiao-lin, and others.
The orchestra’s international cultural exchange activities have spanned more than 30 countries and regions worldwide, covering all five continents with regular cultural exchange performances. Based on the foundation of learning from folk music, the China National Traditional Orchestra has composed and adapted over 2,000 outstanding works that reflect both the traditional characteristics and the spirit of the times, enriching its repertoire and promoting the creation of traditional music. They have also initiated the establishment of the “China Traditional Music Popularization and Promotion Center,” which is located in the National Public Cultural Cloud, and aims to disseminate China’s excellent traditional music culture to the general public.