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Grammy Award winning pianist Emanuel Ax returns
to perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 2 with HKPO

22 May 2008

Hong Kong, 22 May 2008– Legendary Polish-American pianist Emanuel Ax, Maestro Edo de Waart and the Hong Kong Philharmonic (HKPO) join forces again to bring Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 2 in Swire Maestro: Emanuel Ax returns. Two concerts will be held on 6 and 7 June (Fri and Sat) at 8pm at Cultural Centre Concert Hall.

Emanuel Ax and Maestro de Waart have many wonderful collaborations in the past, sharing the stage with such orchestras as the Minnesota, San Francisco, Sydney symphonies and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2004, Ax performed Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 2 with de Waart and HKPO. The two much revered concerts won the hearts of the audience, with one critic says, “Ax and de Waart responded to each other like they were in a chamber performance, coaching the orchestra with de Waart leading and Ax providing added inspiration.”

Emanuel Ax says he has loved the concerto ever since he heard a recording of it that his family owned when he was 7 or 8. When he was 16, he learned it with his teacher, Mieczyslaw Munz. “This is a wonderfully moving piece,” says Ax of the F minor piano concerto. “It speaks to the unbelievable genius of Chopin at 18. We can’t quite fathom it. He's like Einstein. There are millions of notes, and they're hard notes that have to sound free and easy, not like you're struggling. And then you want to create an atmosphere."

Emanuel Ax’s distinguished career includes appearances each season with major symphony orchestras worldwide, recitals in the most celebrated concert halls, a variety of chamber music collaborations, as well as the commissioning and performance of new music. In the current season, Ax returns to orchestras in the US where he has had ongoing relationships for many years including the New York, Chicago, Houston, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Minnesota, and National symphony orchestras. In Europe, he will appear with the Bayerischer Rundfunk, The Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. A solo recital tour in Europe and North America will take him to celebrated venues such as London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Emanuel Ax has been an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist since 1987. Two volumes in his recording cycle of Haydn Piano Sonatas have won him Grammy Awards.

Also on the programme of Swire Maestro: Emanuel Ax returns are music of Ravel and Brahms. Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin started life as a suite for solo piano but was later reborn in the composer’s exquisite orchestration. While Arnold Schoenberg scandalized music in the early 20th century with the advert of serialism, in the 1930s he magnified Brahms’ intense G minor Piano Quartet onto the wide-screen of the symphony orchestra, projecting Brahms’ original in vivid new colours.

The pair of concerts is part of the Swire Maestro Series. Free Swire Classic Insights pre-concert talks are held in English and Cantonese respectively on both evenings.

Programme Details
Swire Maestro: Emanuel Ax returns
6 & 7 / 6 / 2008 Friday and Saturday HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall 8 pm
$380, $280, $180, $120
Available at URBTIX outlets
URBTIX website: www.urbtix.hk
Reservations: 2734 9009
Credit Card booking: 2111 5999
Programme Enquiries: 2721 2030
HKPO Website: www.hkpo.com

Artists
Edo de Waart conductor
Emanuel Ax paino

Programme
Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin
Chopin Piano Concerto No 2
Brahms (orch Schoenberg) Piano Quartet

Swire Classic Insights
Pre-concert talks

Time: 7:15 - 7:45pm
Venue: Level 4 Foyer, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Free Admission

6/6 (English)
7/6 (Cantonese)

Speaker: Dr Joanna C. Lee, Honorary Research Fellow, Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong

Swire is the title sponsor of Swire Maestro Series: Emanuel Ax returns and Swire Classic Insights.

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ABOUT THE HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Hailed as “one of Asia's top orchestras”, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) is led by the internationally renowned Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Edo de Waart. Enriching Hong Kong’s cultural life for over a century, the Orchestra has grown into a formidable ensemble of Chinese and international talents in the last three decades, attracting world-class artists to perform on the same stage. In April 2006, The Swire Group Charitable Trust became the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s Principal Patron to enable Maestro de Waart’s artistic vision for the Orchestra to be realized. HKPO annually touches the lives of 200,000 music lovers through more than 150 performances, including a series of outreach activities including the city’s largest outdoor symphonic concert in Happy Valley, Swire Symphony under the Stars. Please visit www.hkpo.com for more information about the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is financially supported by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

SWIRE is the Principal Patron of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.