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Edo de Waart conducts HKPO in Mahler's Symphony no. 7

13 February 2007

Hong Kong, 13 February 2007 – One of this century’s great virtuoso singers, Sergei Leiferkus, will appear with Edo de Waart and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) in Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival. Following the success of Hong Kong Philharmonic’s performances of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony at last year’s Hong Kong Arts Festival, de Waart will conduct HKPO in Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 this year. This all-Mahler concert will be held on 7 March at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. Due to popular demand, a second performance is added on 8 March and tickets are now available at all URBTIX outlets.

Born in 1946 in Leningrad, Russian baritone Sergei Leiferkus is one of this century’s great virtuoso singers. Having established his international reputation at the Kirov Opera, he made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in 1983, and was soon in high demand by conductors and producers of the day. He is constantly in high demand particularly at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, the New York Metropolitan Opera, and the La Scala Opera House Milan. He has been particularly acclaimed for his performances of Eugene Onegin, Don Carlos, Scarpia, Don Giovanni, Mephistopheles, Escamillo, Prince Igor, Iago and Macbeth.

Songs of Wayfarer is the first of Mahler’s major orchestral song-cycles, set to text devised by the Austrian composer. It is a set of four songs about the pangs and joys of love, written in response to the young Mahler’s unrequited love for a young actress. The melody of the second song, Ging heut morgen übers Feld (I walked across the fields this morning), will be familiar to audiences as it is famously used in the first movement of Symphony No. 1.

The Seventh is a “happier and funnier” work, as well as Mahler’s most intriguing and perhaps least performed symphony, says Edo de Waart. Nicknamed The Song of the Night - both the second and the fourth movements are entitled Nachtmusik (night-music) - Symphony No. 7 has a special relationship with De Waart’s hometown. Mahler made his first trip to Amsterdam in 1904, spending much time at the Rijksmuseum, and allegedly gained inspiration for the first of his Nachtmusik movements from Rembrandt’s famous painting The Night Watch.

Mahler made use of various non-standard orchestral instruments in this symphony. Apart from his favourite Alpine cowbells, the gentle sounds of the guitar and mandolin create a magical serenade character in the second Nachtmusik (the fourth movement). Another example is the use of a traditional brass instrument ‘tenor horn’ to play the opening melody of the symphony - in a modern-day orchestra (and in the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s performances) the euphonium will be used.

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, as well as Music Directorships of San Francisco Symphony and Minnesota Orchestras.

Maestro de Waart is in constant demand as a guest conductor with leading orchestras in Europe, the United States and Asia. He is a renowned opera conductor and has conducted the Hong Kong Philharmonic in concert opera performances of Salome, Elektra and Madama Butterfly to critical acclaim. His recording catalogue is very extensive, including the complete Mahler cycle, the complete orchestral works by Rachmaninov, and two discs of orchestral works by Wagner with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic.

Hong Kong Arts Festival 2007
Mahler’s Symphony No. 7
7&8 | 3 | 2007 
Wednesday and Thursday
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
$480, $380, $280, $180
Available from URBTIX now
Reservations: 2734 9009
Credit Card booking: 2111 5999
Enquiries: 2721 2030

Edo de Waart          conductor
Sergei Leiferkus      baritone

Mahler    Songs of a Wayfarer
Mahler    Symphony No. 7

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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.