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HKPO Attendance Exceeds 90%

2008/09 Season Announced: Headline Artists include
cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Yundi Li and soprano Sumi Jo

28 May 2008

Hong Kong, 28 May 2008 – The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO), hailed as “one of Asia's top orchestras”, today announced its fifth season under the artistic directorship of Maestro Edo de Waart, highlighting 32 subscription programmes, featuring over 50 guest artists, soloists or groups.

“In Tune with Our City” is this season’s theme, signifying the Orchestra’s continuous strive to arouse our community’s enthusiasm in the best of music, under the world-renowned conductor and orchestra builder Edo de Waart, with great performances and other outreach activities including school visits, education concerts, pre-concert talks, free and open air concerts, a fellowship programme for young Chinese musicians, etc.

Constantly striving for innovation and creativity, the Orchestra has reached new heights in artistic excellence and achieved box office and attendance records since Edo de Waart began as Artistic Director in September 2004. Audience numbers have grown impressively with average paid attendance in the 07/08 season exceeding 90% to date, reflecting the groundswell of public support for the Orchestra.

Never before has the Hong Kong Philharmonic assembled such an impressive series of artists, the stellar line-up of the 2008/09 season ranges from the incomparable cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the exquisite soprano Sumi Jo to world-beating piano duo the Labèque sisters and supreme Russian violin virtuoso Viktoria Mullova. Pianist Yundi Li’s concerts with Edo de Waart and the Orchestra are always a highlight and this season he adds a solo recital as a special event.

In the new season, the Orchestra takes a moment to reflect on the heritage of 19th century orchestral music by German and Austrian composers in a three-week mini-festival entitled A Symphonic Century. Starting at the dawn of the 19th century with Beethoven’s First Symphony, and spanning the entire Romantic era until the Second Viennese School challenged the foundations of music at the start of the 20th century, A Symphonic Century explores the limitless expressive capability of the symphony orchestra which enabled so many great composers to produce their greatest work.

“Both Mahler and Wagner are great passions of mine, and each season we try to include a substantial work of Wagner. We realize that this music has not been played very much in Hong Kong, so we are gradually trying to build up a following for it. In A Symphonic Century, we are including Act I of Die Walküre which is a thrilling, heart-stopping hour from The Ring,” says Edo de Waart.

“Of course, Mahler is also featured in this series of concerts, and I very much look forward to the next instalment in our on-going cycle of Mahler symphonies when I conduct the Ninth. Also, I am thrilled to include Bruckner’s expansive and magnificent Seventh Symphony. Although I have conducted all of the Bruckner symphonies before, this will be the first time I’ve performed this repertoire with the Hong Kong Philharmonic,” continues Edo de Waart.

Following the introduction and great success of Swire New Generation series in the 2007/08 season, outstanding pianists John Chen, brothers Lio Kuok-wai and Lio Kuok-man, and violinist Dan Zhu are the spotlights for the coming season, performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2, Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals and Violin Concerto No 3 respectively in the series. Also, the Orchestra has joined hands with the Tom Lee Music Foundation to present the Grand Final of the 2008 Young Musician of the Year competition, with four young musicians to perform their chosen concertos with the Orchestra in a special concert.

In vein with bringing foremost outstanding Chinese musicians to our audience, both established and up-and-coming talents are to share the stage with the Orchestra. From Yo-Yo Ma, Yundi Li and conductors Lan Shui and Zhang Xian in the Great Performers series, cellist Trey Lee, pianist Colleen Lee, conductor Lü Jia in Simply Classic series, tenor Wei Song, suona virtuoso Guo Yazhi and conductor En Shao in SoundFest’s Bravo! China concert, horn player Lin Jiang in Mozart in the City, pianist Chen Sa in A Prelude to the 2009 HKPO China Tour, to the four soloists featured in Swire New Generation Series, Chinese artists are particularly strong in the coming season.

Other highlighted works of the new season include celebrated pianist Stephen Hough’s Brahms Piano Concerto No 1, world famous cellist Lynn Harrell’s Shostakovich Cello Concerto No 1, extraordinary violinist Julian Rachlin’s Prokofiev Violin Concerto No 2, distinctive pianist Ronald Brautigam’s Mozart Piano Concerto No 24, young Spanish pianist Javier Perianes’ Falla Nights in the Gardens of Spain, the cutting-edge British pianist Joanna MacGregor’s two Messiaen works, impressive violinist Isabelle Faust’s Mozart Violin Concerto No 4, and Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk’s warm-hearted interpretation of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto.

Two superb conductors are to work with the Orchestra for the first time. British conductor Mark Elder, music director of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester will conduct a programme in December this year which includes Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony. David Zinman, music director of Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Aspen Music Festival, will conduct a programme which includes the Adagio from Mahler’s Tenth Symphony and Strauss’ Thus spake Zarathustra in January. In March, Hong Kong Philharmonic’s Conductor Laureate, David Atherton’s five-year exploration of the symphonies of Sibelius reaches its conclusion with the distilled essence of the Seventh, whose massive final page prized open a 30-year chasm of symphonic silence from the composer.

The Orchestra’s annual romp down Broadway gets beefed up in the new season with a rock beat. Hits from a great collection of modern Broadway classics are given turbo-charged treatment with a powerful cast of top Broadway performers and we trade the good manners of the Cultural Centre to let our hair down in the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.

The programmes of the 2008/09 Season are divided into 6 subscription series, entitled Great Performers, Swire Maestro, Swire New Generation, SoundFest, Simply Classic, Mozart in the City as well as three Special concerts. Patrons who subscribe by 1 July 2008 could enjoy up to 37% discount and Club Bravo membership, enjoying year-round privileges. Students, citizens aged 60 or over, people with disabilities, or CSSA recipients enjoy up to 55% discount. Programme details are available on HKPO’s website from 28 May. Brochures are also available at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong City Hall and other performing venues, URBTIX outlets, and selected bookshops and music stores.

The subscription concerts are the core of the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s 44-week season, yet the Orchestra has even more to offer the community of Hong Kong. “Outside the concert hall, the Orchestra is dedicated to reaching the widest possible audience through a vast array of initiatives ranging from free, open-air concerts to radio and TV broadcasts on RTHK, visits to schools and universities, performances in such unusual venues as the Museum of Art, the Queen Elizabeth Stadium and Tong Chong Steet and educational activities for adults such as pre-concert talks and adult education seminars,” said Timothy Calnin, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the below partners for their support

Bank of China (Hong Kong)
proudly sponsors Yo-Yo Ma and the HKPO

HSBC Insurance
sponsors the Opening Performance of Bravo Broadway Rocks!

The Robert H N Ho Family Foundation
sponsors the “Orchestral Fellowships in Partnership with the HKPO”

Sun Wah Group
sponsors the Opening Performance of Trey Lee + HKPO: a China National Day celebration

Chairman of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society, Mr Edward ST Ho, expressed gratitude to the Hong Kong Government and the sponsors’ support to the Orchestra during the Press Launch. Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Maestro Edo de Waart, presented the highlights of the 2008/09 season.
A performance of the first movement of the Mendelssohn Octet for Strings in E-flat, led by John Harding (Concertmaster of HKPO), with Richard Bamping (Cello Principal of HKPO), Wang Peng, Wang Liang, Jia Ding Ding, Bu Hong, Xia Chunyu (fellows from The Robert HN Ho Foundation Family Foundation Orchestra Fellowship Scheme 2007/08), and Cara Cheung (student from the HKAPA).

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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 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.