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'Music is Our Nature'

2006-05-16

Hong Kong, 16 May 2006 - The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) today announced its third season under the artistic directorship of Maestro Edo de Waart, with 26 colourful programmes comprising 51 subscription concerts in total, beginning with Madama Butterfly opera-in-concert on 16 September 2006. From three of the greatest opera singers of our time to three of Broadway's sexiest divas, from Mahler's massive Third Symphony to the three leading violinists of our generation, this 33rd orchestral season will excite the imagination and the senses of Hong Kong's music lovers.

Edward S T Ho, Chairman of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society's General Committee, said: "2006/07 is a real landmark year for the Hong Kong Philharmonic because it marks the beginning of what we all hope and expect to be a long and immensely fruitful relationship with our Principal Patron, Swire. Swire's 'Sound Commitment' to the Hong Kong Philharmonic is enabling us to expand and enhance our programmes and increase the public's access to the performances of the Orchestra. That commitment will be evidenced throughout the season and the public of Hong Kong will be the direct beneficiaries of Swire's sponsorship of the Orchestra."
 
Edo de Waart, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, said: "The season which we're announcing today is the next step in attracting greater numbers to experience the orchestra in full flight. With Swire's financial support, we are able to attract a higher calibre of artists, and I am particularly happy that a number of world-class guest conductors like Charles Dutoit and Osmo Vänskä have agreed to come and work their magic with the Orchestra during this season. In our quest to become the leading orchestra in this region, we're well on the way – I'd even say we're ahead of schedule!"

Striving for Artistic Excellence: Madama Butterfly, Mahler 3, Wagner Gala
Central to Edo de Waart's mission as the Hong Kong Philharmonic's Artistic Director is to present programmes of the highest artistic level to its audiences and this is seen in the landmark projects of the annual opera-in-concert and the Mahler symphonic cycle. Following the overwhelming success of Salome and Elektra, Edo de Waart brings audiences back to the heartland of the operatic art-form with Puccini's timeless tale of love and betrayal, Madama Butterfly (16 & 18 September 2006). The maestro has again assembled a superb cast, headed by Chinese soprano He Hui and American tenor Andrew Richards - both will sing these roles next season on the stages of London, Paris and New York.  Following the triumphant performance of Mahler's First, Second, Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, Edo de Waart will present the massive Third Symphony (17 & 18 November 2006), together with mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby, women of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus and the Hong Kong Children's Choir. To give audiences a foretaste of what to expect in future seasons, Edo de Waart will lead the full forces of the Orchestra in 'Wagner Gala' (26 & 27 January 2007) with one of the greatest Wagnerian sopranos of our time, Elizabeth Connell. 

Headline Artists: Renée Fleming, Charles Dutoit, Joshua Bell, Vadim Repin, Hilary Hahn
The Great Performers series and Swire Maestro series form the backbone of this season, bringing together leading conductors and soloists in major works of the symphonic repertoire.  One of the biggest stars in the operatic firmament, American soprano Renée Fleming will make her Hong Kong début performing Richard Strauss's serene Four last songs, conducted by HKPO Conductor Laureate David Atherton (30 & 31 March 2007). The legendary maestro Charles Dutoit will bring Ravel's richly detailed score of Daphnis & Chloë in its full colour (29 & 30 June 2007).  Three of the most brilliant violinists of this generation: Vadim Repin (with his famous 1708 Stradivarius "Ruby" violin previously played by Pablo de Sarasate), Hilary Hahn and Joshua Bell will appear on stage with the HKPO in concertos by Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky respectively (6 & 7 October 2006, 8 & 9 June, 6 & 7 July 2007).
 
Reaching out to the Audience: 'Classic Insights' and Simply Classic
In the 2006/07 season and sponsored by SWIRE, the Hong Kong Philharmonic is introducing 'Classic Insights', a series of 30-minute free pre-concert talks prior to every concert in the Swire Maestro series to increase the public's enjoyment and appreciation of classical music. Leading experts and musicians will be invited to share their unique insights into the composers, their lives, their eras and their works. Talks on Friday evenings will be conducted in English and those on Saturday evenings will be in Cantonese.  In the Simply Classic series, well-known presenters will bring listeners into the beautiful world of symphonic music in a relaxed and informal way, in Cantonese by Kathy Lam on Friday and in English by Ben Pelletier on Saturday.

The New Generation: Swire New Generation concerts and HKAPA project
In the 2006/07 season, the Hong Kong Philharmonic highlights its collaboration with outstanding Chinese young talent in a number of the Swire New Generation concerts. Maazel/Vilar Conductors' Competition winner Zhang Xian will conduct various styles of contemporary American music in 'American Visions' (20 & 21 April 2007). Cellist Trey Lee teams up with HKPO in 'Sounds of Nature' (8-9 December 2006), with the nostalgic Cello Concerto by Edward Elgar. Chen Sa will make her début with HKPO in the radiant Mozart Piano Concerto No.23 in A major (15 & 16 June 2007). Twin cellists Pei-Jee and Pei-Sian Ng will bring us works by Tchaikovsky as well as The Sleep of Reason (2006), a concerto for two cellos written specially for them by Australian composer Graeme Koehne (18 & 19 May 2007).  As part of Edo de Waart's mission in nurturing aspiring professionals, the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) continue their annual partnership, which will end in a joint performance with Academy students of Mahler's Fifth Symphony (21 January 2007).

Sonic Spectrum: Iris Dévoilée, Fujin-Raijin, Concerto for Four Saxophones, XIII/The Grand Encounter: Timpani Concerto No. 2
It is Edo de Waart's wish to broaden the orchestral sonic spectrum by performing works by living and contemporary composers. In the Soundfest series, audiences will hear the eclectic and evocative Iris Dévoilée (2001) by Chen Qigang, a brilliant effort to merge Peking opera and western symphonic music, and this time guest artists from the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra will provide the Hong Kong Philharmonic with much timbral variety (9 & 11 November 2006). Fujin-Raijin (1997) by Japanese composer Tokuhide Niimi is a study of spirituality, trance and muscular brute force written for Taiko drummer Eitetsu Hayashi (27 & 28 September 2006). Also not to be missed is 'Four saxophones and a concerto' (22 & 23 June 2007) in the Simply Classic series. The Rascher Saxophone Quartet will display their dexterity in Concerto for 4 Saxophones (1986), a tour de force specially written for them by Tristan Keuris (1946-1996). On 20 and 21 April 2007, HKPO Principal Timpanist James Boznos will demonstrate the acoustic versatility and individuality of his instrument in the thunderous XIII/The Grand Encounter: Timpani Concerto No. 2 by American composer William Kraft, which was premièred only last year by the Principal Timpanist of the San Francisco Symphony, David Herbert.

Fun and Entertainment: Broadway Hits, Christmas and New Year
'Broadway Hits in Concert' has just played to three sold-out houses at the City Hall Concert Hall. Next season, we will once again present three of the brightest stars on Broadway, namely Christiane Noll, Jan Horvath and Debbie Gravitte, the latter a winner of Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her sparkling performance in Jerome Robbin's Broadway. This time the all-women trio pays tribute to the musical stage with tunes that touched the hearts of millions from popular musicals such as My Fair Lady, A Chorus Line and Funny Girl, among many others (25 & 26 May 2007). It is also HKPO's tradition to celebrate the festive moments of the year with our audience in 'Christmas with the Philharmonic' (23-24 December 2006) and 'New Year's Gala' (30-31 December 2006).

More Programmes Highlights and Distinguished Artists
Mozart in the City series at the Hong Kong City Hall continues to present the composer's work in contrast with works from the same period or the 20th century, topping it with Mozart's Great Mass in C minor with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus. David Atherton reaches the mid-point in his Sibelius cycle with the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies. Eminent conductors Osmo Vänskä and Andrey Boreyko make their début with HKPO next season. By popular demand, the audience will also be able to experience again the stunning performances by such phenomenal talent as the young Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein, as well as violinists/conductors Kolja Blacher and John Harding. Principal musicians from the Hong Kong Philharmonic – Jonathan Clarke (trumpet) and Richard Bamping (cello) – will also be in the spotlight in concerto performances.

Subscription Details and Preview Concert
Season subscription offering up to 30% discount is now open until 7 July 2006. Brochures are available at Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong City Hall, and other URBTIX outlets. Details are also available online at www.hkpo.com.

A Preview Concert will be held on 10 June 2006 (Saturday) at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall at 8pm, featuring a selection of musical highlights from the 2006/07 Season. Tickets ($150 and $100) are available from all URBTIX outlets now.

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ABOUT THE HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is rapidly emerging as Asia's leading orchestra, since internationally renowned Edo de Waart joined as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor in the 2004/05 Season. Throughout the last three decades, the Orchestra has grown into a formidable ensemble of Chinese and international talents, attracting world-class artists to perform on the same stage. Apart from giving over a hundred performances annually, many of which are highly anticipated events in the city's cultural calendar, it performs more than 70 free orchestral and chamber concerts for 70,000 primary and secondary school students a year. The Orchestra also joins hands with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts to help nurture aspiring professionals.

ABOUT EDO DE WAART
Edo de Waart is Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. As a conductor of international standing, he appears regularly with the world's leading symphony orchestras and finest musicians. Renowned as an "orchestral builder" who has the enviable ability to transform his orchestras into world-class ensembles, Edo de Waart has held such distinguished positions as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony, and Music Director of San Francisco Symphony. As an opera conductor, Edo de Waart has led highly regarded Wagner Ring Cycles in San Francisco and Sydney. In the past few years, Maestro de Waart conducted numerous concert performances of operas with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, as well as Strauss' Salome and Elektra with the HKPO, all with critical acclaim. He was recently awarded the Order of Australia and was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.