Ayup, 57, is Uyghur and the first ethnic conductor to graduate from Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He returned to Xinjiang, after conducting the Shanghai Symphony for his graduation concert in 1992. Four years later, he founded the Xinjiang Philharmonic Orchestra.
Yu Long and the principal instrumentalists from Shanghai Symphony Orchestra have visited the orchestra in Urumqi. He also rehearsed a segment of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet with the Xinjiang symphony.
Ayup has taken the orchestra on tour all over China, but he regrets that his group has few opportunities to work with internationally acclaimed musicians.
When he told Yu about it, Yu immediately made a phone call to Yo-Yo Ma, the internationally acclaimed cellist, who cheerfully agreed to visit Xinjiang and play Duo, a concerto by Zhao Lin that Yu commissioned for Ma.
They also talked about plans of co-commissioning a work that features local instruments of Xinjiang.
"The rich musical resources of Xinjiang will be known to a wider public, when they are presented on an international platform," says Zhou Ping, deputy director of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.
"We used to say, 'what's national is universal of the world'," Zhou says. "But often the interest for aboriginal music is temporary and shallow.
"To compose an outstanding new piece, and bring local music elements to a context of classical or serious music, will bring new vitality to it, and enrich the global music scene at the same time."
Also, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra welcomes musicians from Xinjiang to take long- or short-term training programs at its instrumentalists' institute.
China's music conservatories have long emphasized the training of soloists, while falling behind in the systematic education of instrumentalists working in an orchestra. "Our program is aimed at filling that gap," Zhou says.
"Musicians in Xinjiang may not have so many performance opportunities. Working with the Shanghai Symphony for some time will help them improve rapidly, by rehearsing a set program for two to three days, playing with world-renowned conductors and performing lots of concerts."
For the Shanghai orchestra, which celebrates its 135th birthday this year as well as the launch of its new concert hall in the city center of Shanghai, promoting classical music in the wild west of China has its strategic significance, too, Zhou said. "We have often spoken of expanding the audience of classical music. There is no better way than going there, playing for the people andteaching more musicians for them."