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New York Philharmonic associate conductor Zhang Xian debuts with HKPO in all-American programme

4 April 2007

Hong Kong, 4 April 2007 The Hong Kong Philharmonic (HKPO) will present an exciting all-American programme featuring Chinese conductor Zhang Xian on 20 and 21 April at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. One of today’s hottest rising stars on the podium, Zhang’s debuts with the New York Philharmonic as associate conductor and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl as guest conductor last year had critics raving about her: “Young Conductor Enters, Bringing an Infusion of Vitality” (Anthony Tommasini, March 2006, The New York Times); she maintained a magnetic rapport with the Phil's musicians and led them as if she were both their chief conductor and a beloved collaborator.” (Adam Baer, August 2006, Los Angeles Times). In this concert, HKPO’s Principal Timpanist James Boznos will perform William Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No.2, XIII The Grand Encounter, giving the newly revised version of this work its world premiere. The programme will include best-loved works by Gershwin, Bernstein and Barber, as well as Copland’s Lincoln Portrait featuring the U.S. Consul General of Hong Kong and Macau, James B. Cunningham, as narrator.

Born in Dandong, China, and first prize-winner of the 2002 Maazel/Vilar International Conductors Competition, Zhang Xian has held the post of Associate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic since 2005, prior to which she served as Assistant Conductor for a year. An enthusiastic opera conductor, Xian Zhang has just made a sensational debut with La Bohème for English National Opera last month, who immediately re-invited her for a production in 2008/9. Zhang Xian is becoming in much demand as a guest conductor: summer 2006 saw her debut with Los Angeles Philharmonic, who have invited her to return in 2008/9. In 2005, Zhang won Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segel Award, which is given annually to two "rising young artists in recognition of outstanding achievement in their respective disciplines." She is also music director of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra in the U.S. RTHK showcased her in the acclaimed television documentary series, Outstanding Young Chinese Musicians, along with other distinguished Chinese artists such as Yundi Li and Lang Lang.

American James Boznos, Principal Timpanist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, will premiere William Kraft’s second timpani concerto. It was first performed in San Francisco in 2005 but has since been drastically revised for these concerts, with much input from Boznos. A special set of timpani is being shipped to Hong Kong for the performances. “I am very honored to give the premiere the revised version of The Grand Encounter, especially since the composer will be in Hong Kong. It is also very exciting to introduce to Asia the future of the timpani: a fifteen drum set on two levels, ranging in size from 32 inchs to 14 inches. This grand timpanium is only one of two sets in the world. I hope you will come and hear the HKPO make a bit of history in this brilliantly scored work,” says James.

Lincoln Portrait was written by Aaron Copland as part of the World War II patriotic war effort in 1942 and it is narrated, with excerpts of Abraham Lincoln’s great documents, including the famous Gettysburg Address. In the past, Lincoln Portrait has been narrated by such celebrities as Al Gore with the New York Philharmonic, Edward Heath with the Cleveland Orchestra, Henry Fonda with the London Symphony Orchestra, Gregory Peck with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Margaret Thatcher with the London Symphony Orchestra. For this Hong Kong performance, the US Consul General of Hong Kong and Macau, James B. Cunningham, will be the narrator. James B. Cunningham assumed his responsibilities as Consul General of the United States of America in Hong Kong on August 4, 2005. As Consul General, he is responsible for the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions. Before arriving in Hong Kong, Consul General Cunningham was Ambassador and Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations (2001-2005). Consul General Cunningham was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is married and has two children. He speaks Italian, French, and Spanish and has studied Mandarin.

Both concerts will be introduced in Cantonese by Kathy Lam on Friday and in English by Vance Lee, Assistant Principal Bassoon of HKPO, on Saturday.

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A Swire New Generation Concert: American Visions
20&21 | 4 | 2007
Friday and Saturday
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
8 PM
$250, $200, $150, $100
Reservations: 2734 9009
Credit Card booking: 2111 5999
Enquiries: 2721 2030


Zhang Xian


James Boznos


Kathy Lam

narrator in Cantonese(20/4)

Vance Lee

narrator in English (21/4)

Special Guest:
James B. Cunningham, U.S. Consul General of Hong Kong and Macau, narrator for Lincoln Portrait



Candide: overture


Concerto No.2 for Timpani: XIII The Grand Encounter


Lincoln Portrait


Adagio for Strings


Porgy & Bess Symphonic Picture

Swire is the title sponsor of A Swire New Generation Concert: American Visions.


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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 financially supported by the HKSAR Government.

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