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Edo de Waart conducts HKPO in all-Wagner concert

12 January 2007

Hong Kong, 12 January 2007 – The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) is poised to take on another of Edo de Waart's visionary projects in his tenure as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor with two concerts that highlight some of Wagner's great masterpieces. At the invitation of Maestro de Waart, one of the world's greatest Wagnerian sopranos, Elizabeth Connell, will appear with the Orchestra in two famous excerpts from Wagner's operas. The concerts will take place on 26 and 27 January at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. Wagner Gala will be an exciting preview for the Orchestra's plan to present The Ring in concert performances in succession in 4 years from the year 2008.

Wagner's music is inextricably linked to Edo de Waart's 40-year career as a conductor. In his youth, he was held spellbound by Wagner's The Ring, having heard the recording of the late Georg Solti on LPs while reading the music in miniature scores. "I knew that for the first time in my life it was with the Ring Cycle that I had some sort of an almost out of body experience." He conducted at Bayreuth in 1979, and has conducted extremely successful concert performances of The Ring in San Francisco and Sydney while he was Music/Artistic Director with the symphony orchestras there. One of Edo de Waart's most important recording projects with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, with which he was Chief Conductor for 16 years, is a series of Wagner's music on BMG/RCA, including three symphonic compilations of music from The Ring, Parsifal and Tristan and Isolde by Henk de Vlieger, composer and principal percussionist of the Orchestra. Recently, Edo de Waart also released two extremely fine discs of Wagner’s orchestral works with the same orchestra on EXTON, winning rave reviews. One of the reviewers on wrote: "De Waart is in the class of the greatest Wagnerians ever….when the music dies, the listener dies with it, I was holding my breath every time until the new ppp entry. Mesmerising."

Edo de Waart will conduct HKPO in the Asia premiere of Henk de Vlieger's orchestral arrangement of Wagner's only comic opera, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, as well as Ride of the Valkyries from The Valkyrie, the second opera from The Ring. Elizabeth Connell will sing excerpts from Tannhäuser, as well as the final scene from The Twilight of the Gods, the last opera from Wagner's series of four epic operas, The Ring of the Nibelung.

Elizabeth Connell is recognised as one of the world's leading dramatic sopranos. Following her debut at Wexford Opera Festival in 1972 she sang at the opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973 and has continued to have a special relationship with Opera Australia ever since. Following a five-year association with English National Opera she has been a freelance artist with the major opera houses. She has had a successful collaboration with conductors such as Abbado, Muti, Sinopoli, Giulini, Sawallisch, Mackerras, Downes, Sir Colin Davis, Maazel, Levine, Ozawa and Elder. She has sung at the Bayreuth (Lohengrin, Tristan and Der fliegende Holländer), Salzburg (Idomeneo and Elektra), Verona (Norma and Nabucco) and Glyndebourne (Idomeneo) Festivals. Her many recordings include Rossini's Guillaume Tell (Decca/Chailly), Mahler's Eighth Symphony (EMI/Tennstedt), Wagner's Lohengrin (Philips/Friedrich) and Schubert Lieder with Graham Johnson, as part of Hyperion's Complete Schubert Edition. Her recent engagements include Brünnhilde, Norma, and Ariadne in Australia as well as Brünnhilde with Marek Janowski in concert in Berlin.

Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of Nibelung) is a series of four epic operas. Richard Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music from 1848 to 1874, over the course of twenty-six years! The four operas in the Ring cycle are Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods). The Ring is a work of extraordinary scale and length. A full performance of the cycle typically takes place over four nights at the opera, with a total playing time of nearly 15 hours. An intriguing drama that follows three generations of protagonists, it depicts the struggles of gods, heroes and mythical creatures over the magic Ring that grants domination over the world.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg) occupies a special place in Wagner's output. The story revolves around the guild of Meistersinger (Master Singers), an association of amateur poets and musicians, mostly from the middle class and often master craftsmen in their main professions. One of the main characters, the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, is based on an actual historical figure: Hans Sachs (1494 — 1576), the most famous of the historical Meistersingers.

Wagner Gala
26&27 | 1 | 2007      Friday and Saturday
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
$400, $300, $200, $100
Available from URBTIX now
Reservations: 2734 9009
Credit Card booking: 2111 5999
Enquiries: 2721 2030

Edo de Waart     conductor
Elizabeth Connell     soprano

Wagner     The Valkyrie: Ride of the Valkyries
Wagner     Tannhäuser: Dich, teure Halle
Wagner     The Twilight of the Gods: Funeral March and Immolation scene
Wagner (arr. Henk de Vlieger)     The Mastersingers of Nuremberg

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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