“In addition to technical virtuosity, Ling — now the San Diego Symphony’s conductor laureate — always brings the orchestra his own superb gift of being able to strip preconceptions and layers of cliché from music that has been too much used and sometimes abused. […]And that’s just what he did with Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,”[…] Ling launched the uncoiling melody into the hall like a great lariat and brought every listener into its circle. The profound silence that followed its last notes was a testament to Barber’s artistry…”

San Diego Union Tribune

“One needed no expertise to tell the Cleveland Orchestra had a special guest Sunday night at Blossom Music Center. Even with eyes closed, one could sense a unique presence. That’s because the person in question was Jahja Ling. Back on the podium here for the first time since 2019, the group’s former resident conductor and longtime Blossom Festival director again elicited degrees of warmth and intensity all his own…But this was more than just a beautiful performance. With Ling in charge, there was a panoply of emotion and an abundance of zest.”


“…Jahja Ling was the all-knowing docent who paused in front of each of Viktor Hartmann’s works to point up interesting details — a brushstroke here, a shading there. [Mussorgsky Pictures] The results were extraordinary. Ling’s unhurried, penetrating gallery tour unmasked hidden elements that rarely come to light — or reach the ear.”

Cleveland Classical

“…Cleveland’s former resident conductor and Blossom Festival director returned from intermission with a personal offering of his own: a luxurious, deeply-felt performance of Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations. The hallmark in this case was pacing. Rather than hurry through the familiar music, as many do, Ling refreshingly basked in it, enforcing contrast and giving the orchestra and soloists in most sections all the room they needed. They, in turn, responded with eloquence. Among the many highlights was Ling’s “Nimrod” Variation, an immaculate balancing of exquisite softness and forceful emotion. “

“Not afraid to extract as much emotion as possible, Ling was precise, warm and in control, and the audience was instantly thunderous in its appreciation at the final note.”

The Barefoot Review

Jahja Ling’s distinguished long career as an internationally renowned conductor has earned him an exceptional reputation for musical integrity, intensity and expressivity. He has conducted all of the major symphony orchestras in North America including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Mr. Ling is universally praised for his work in building the San Diego Symphony Orchestra from post-bankruptcy state into one of the top tier major orchestras during his 13 year tenure from 2003 to 2017. He has appointed more than 70 new musicians from all over the world to form this remarkable ensemble and together they have collaborated with world’s greatest soloists. In October 2013, Mr. Ling led the orchestra in their first historical sold-out appearance at Carnegie Hall, followed by their first international tour to China where they appeared in Yantai, Shanghai and Beijing. Together they have recorded works for both Telarc Records and Naxos and eight other CDs on the orchestra’s own label. The Orchestra named him their first Conductor Laureate in its history.

Mr. Ling holds one of the longest continuous relationships with one of the world’s greatest orchestras, The Cleveland Orchestra. Beginning in 1984 and continuing for 37 seasons, he has conducted about 600 concerts in front of millions of people. The U.S. House of Representatives presented a Congressional Record of his outstanding achievements with this ensemble at the U.S. Capitol in September 2006. Mr. Ling also served as Music Director of The Florida Orchestra (1988-2002), Artistic Director of the Taiwan Philharmonic/NSO (1998-2001) and Assistant and Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony (1981-83). As music director of the Florida Orchestra, Mr. Ling was the first classical music conductor ever invited to conduct at a Super Bowl where he conducted Whitney Houston’s legendary national anthem performance during Super Bowl XXV. It was televised to 750 million viewers worldwide and the recording went platinum. Deeply committed to education, Mr. Ling served as founding Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (1986-1993), the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (1981-84),and served as the Director of the Tanglewood/BU Young Artists Orchestra during the 1983 and 1984 seasons.

Mr. Ling made his European debut with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1988 and has subsequently appeared with orchestras in Amsterdam, Beijing, Berlin, Copenhagen, Guangzhou, Hamburg, Hongkong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Leipzig, London, Montreal, Osaka, Singapore, Stockholm, Shanghai, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo and Vancouver, among others. Jahja Ling’s recording with Scottish Chamber Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy® Award.

Mr. Ling began playing piano at the age of four under the tutelage of Suzy Djoeandy and Rudy Laban. He studied piano with Mieczyslaw Munz and conducting with John Nelson at Juilliard where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Mr. Ling continued his conducting study at Yale School of Music where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts under Otto Werner Mueller. He was awarded the Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood Music Center and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute under Mr. Bernstein. Mr. Ling recently received the Bravo Classical Music Icon Lifetime Achievement Award from San Diego County for his contribution to enriching the cultural life of San Diego.