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Edo de Waart conducts HKPO in Mahler's Majestic Third Symphony


Hong Kong, 1 November 2006 – Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Edo de Waart conducts the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No.3 on 17 and 18 November at 8pm at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, the second installment in the Swire Maestro Series. Guest artists include award-winning mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby, the Ladies of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Choir under the direction of chorus master Simon Kenway, and the city's leading children's choir, the Hong Kong Children's Choir with music director Kathy Fok.

Swire Classic Insights take place from 7.15 to 7.45pm on Level 4 Foyer of the Cultural Centre Concert Hall, and are free and open to the public. The event features a pre-concert talk by Timothy Calnin, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, speaking in English on Friday, and Dr Johnny Minglun Poon, Artistic Director of Performance Activities and Music Director of Hong Kong Baptist University Symphony Orchestra, speaking in Cantonese on Saturday.

Edo de Waart has a very special relationship with Mahler's Third Symphony. It was this work that he took on tour with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic as their Chief Conductor about 6 years ago, and they performed ten performances of it in 14 days. "I feel that I really know it. It's like a family member," said Edo de Waart.

Apart from Symphony No.3, HKPO will also perform in the 2006/07 Season Mahler's Symphony No.7 in March 2007as part of in the Hong Kong Arts Festival, as well as Mahler's Symphony No. 5 next January in the annual joint project with students of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The Hong Kong Philharmonic's Mahler cycle, launched in September 2004 when Edo de Waart took up the position of Artistic Director and Chief Conductor, aims to present all nine symphonies of Gustav Mahler in five years. So far, the Hong Kong Philharmonic has performed Mahler's Symphony No. 1, 2, 4 and 5 to critical acclaim under the baton of Maestro de Waart. "Edo de Waart's architectural view of Mahler 5 was masterful. His exemplary pacing drew musical logic from the five movements, individually and as a whole….The orchestra excelled throughout, responding with commitment to the colour and complexity of Mahler's score and de Waart's detailed insight." (South China Morning Post, July 2005)

Edo de Waart's recording of the complete Mahler cycle with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic was also greeted with enthusiasm by David Hurwitz in Classic CD: "spontaneity and control: de Waart shows absolute mastery of Mahler's idiom."

The Third Symphony, Mahler's longest, was composed during the summer of 1895 (and completed in 1896) while he was taking a break from his duties as music director of the Hamburg Opera. It was to be called The Happy Life, a midsummer nights' dream (not after Shakespeare) and he gave titles and descriptions, inspired by nature, to the six movements (which he later removed). There is a well-known story: while visiting Mahler at Steinbach, Bruno Walter, his assistant, looked out of the window, admiring the stunning mountain scenery. Mahler remarked, "No need to gape at those. I have already composed that all away." Mahler eventually conducted the premiere performance of the complete Third symphony in 1902 to an extremely appreciative audience at a new music festival in the Rhineland city of Krefeld, thanks to his friend and festival organizer, Richard Strauss.

Edo de Waart is Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He appears regularly with the world's leading symphony orchestras and finest musicians and has enjoyed success in the major opera houses. 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, Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Opera, as well as Music Directorships of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Minnesota Orchestras. Maestro de Waart has received many awards for his outstanding achievements in music. He is a Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion. Last year, he was awarded the Order of Australia and appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

American mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby is in demand by opera companies and orchestras throughout the world.  The particularly rich quality of her vocal timbre is a natural fit with the music of Gustav Mahler. Mahler's Symphony No. 3 has taken her to the orchestras of Cleveland (Welser-Möst), St. Louis (including Carnegie Hall), Detroit (Järvi) and Baltimore (Temirkanov, Zinman). She has also performed Symphony No. 8 (Minnesota, Cincinnati May Festival, Amsterdam) and Symphony No. 2 with the Baltimore Symphony (Yuri Temirkanov), the Cleveland Orchestra (Dohnányi), the Minnesota Orchestra (de Waart), and on tour with the Israel Philharmonic (Mehta). Among numerous other awards, she is the winner of the Marian Anderson Award and the Martin E. Segal Award.

The Hong Kong Children's Choir was founded in 1969. Under the supervision of Music Director and Principal Conductor Kathy Fok, as well as a group of dedicated teachers, choir members not only have the opportunity to develop their artistic talents, but also the importance of team-building through practice and performances. The Hong Kong Children's Choir has been applauded in over 57 cities, gaining an international reputation as "one of the best children's choirs in the world" and "Little Goodwill Singing Ambassadors from Hong Kong". In 2003, the Choir was named one of "China's Top Ten Children's Chorus".

Chorus Master of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus Simon Kenway is an established and highly respected orchestral and operatic conductor. He has held posts as Principal Chorus Master of Opera Australia, Musical Director for Opera in the Vineyards, Opera by George and Opera under the Stars in Broome, and Conductor and Chief Vocal Coach for the Sydney Conservatorium Opera School. He now works as a freelance conductor, both internationally and in Australia.

Programme Information:

Swire Maestro Series: Mahler's Third
17&18 | 11 | 2006    Friday and Saturday
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
8:00 PM
(Concert runs about 100 minutes without an interval)
$400, $300, $200, $100
Available from URBTIX now
Reservations: 2734 9009
Credit Card booking: 2111 5999
Enquiries: 2721 2030

Edo de Waart     conductor
Nancy Maultsby     mezzo soprano
Women of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus
Hong Kong Children's Choir

Swire Classic Insights
Pre-concert talks

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

17/11 (English)        Speaker: Timothy Calnin

18/11 (Cantonese)       Speaker: Dr. Johnny Minglun Poon

Swire is the title sponsor of Swire Maestro Series: Mahler's Third and Swire Classic Insights.

- END -

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. It gives over a hundred performances annually, many of which are highly anticipated events in the city's cultural calendar. The Hong Kong Philharmonic reaches out to the community with such diverse activities as a comprehensive music-in-education programme for primary and secondary school students, performances at university campuses, an annual project with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts to help nurture aspiring professionals, free pre-concert talks that provides in-depth knowledge of music and musicians and an open-air concert that gives the public free access to classical music.

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is subvented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

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