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De Waart conducts Mahler highlight of 2009/10 season
The Song of the Earth
On his triumphant return after two major US performances this fall


[17 November 2009 – Hong Kong] Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) presents “Swire Maestro: De Waart’s Mahler – The Song of the Earth” on 3 Dec 2009 (Thu) at 8pm and 4 Dec 2009 (Fri) at 8pm in the Concert Hall of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. World-renowned Mahler interpreter Edo de Waart, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the HKPO, will conduct Osvaldo Golijov’s Last Round - for string orchestra and continue with his Mahler saga with the composer’s masterpiece The Song of the Earth. mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and tenor Robert Dean Smith will join the Maestro in the latter work.

Mahler’s The Song of the Earth

“Edo de Waart’s architectural view of Mahler 5 was masterful…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

Edo de Waart’s series of Mahler performances since 2004 have signposted the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s artistic growth into Asia’s finest orchestra.  Highlight of the series in this season, The Song of the Earth, a “song symphony”, uses the texts of Chinese poems, four of which are by the great Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai.

Mahler was given a book called The Chinese Flute which contained a number of poems written by various Chinese poets of the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), including Li, translated into German by Hans Bethge from a friend of his father-in-law. And he decided to cast seven poems as a Symphony for “large orchestra, tenor and contralto". But instead of calling it a symphony, he first gave it the title Das Lied vom Jammer der Erde (“The Song of Earthly Sorrows”) which, by the time of its première, conducted by his friend Bruno Walter in Munich on 20th November 1911, had been changed to the less gloomy Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”).  It stands as one of Mahler’s final completed works and serves as an effective summation of the two principal musical focuses in his composing career; the symphony and the orchestral song-cycle.

The Triumphant Return of Maestro de Waart

Maestro Edo de Waart [Full biography], Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the HKPO, had a very hectic fall schedule, opening the season for the HKPO on 4 September, then taking up the music directorship of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in late September. And he also stepped in for the ailing Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine, to conduct Der Rosenkavalier on 13, 16 and 19 October, with Renée Fleming as Marschallin and Susan Graham as Octavian. All three performances garnered great critical acclaims.

Rising mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and famed tenor Robert Dean Smith

The fast-rising mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke [Full Biography] has been touted for her exquisite opera performances, as soloist with orchestra, as well as in song recitals. Her 2009/10 season includes concerts at the Lied Center of Kansas, for the Marilyn Horne Foundation (NY), at SummerFest in La Jolla (CA), at the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with the New York Festival of Song and at the Cosmos Club in Washington DC, and her débuts with the Symphony Orchestras of Milwaukee, Colorado, Seattle, Modesto, Kansas City, San Diego, Chicago and with the Aspen Festival Orchestra under the direction of David Zinman.

Since Robert Dean Smith’s [Full Biogrpahy] spectacular début at the Richard Wagner Bayreuth Festival 1997 as Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger, Robert Dean Smith is sought-after by the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls. An acclaimed interpreter of dramatic and Heldentenor roles, he has appeared in theatres and concert halls around the world with distinguished conductors such as, Mehta, Pappano, Thielemann, Muti, Barenboim, Levine, Sawallisch, Maazel, Boulez, von Dohnányi, Haitink, Chailly and Gatti.

De Waart’s Mahler –
The Song of the Earth
3&4 | 12 | 2009
thu & fri 8pm
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
HK$480 $320 $220 $160
Available at URBTIX from NOW


Edo de Waart


Sasha Cooke


Robert Dean Smith


Click the thumbnail to download photos

Osvaldo GOLIJOV: Last Round – for string orchestra
MAHLER: The Song of the Earth

Ticketing Information
(852) 2734 9009
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(852) 2111 5999
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For programme enquiry, please call HKPO at
(852) 2721 2030

SWIRE Classic Insights
Pre-concert talks for
De Waart’s Mahler – The Song of the Earth
3/12/2009 Thu (English)
Time : 7 :15 – 7 :45 pm
Venue: Level 4 Foyer, Auditoria Building, HK Cultural Centre
Speaker: Perry So, HKPO Assistant Conductor
4/12/2009 Fri (Cantonese)
Time : 7:15 – 7:45 pm

Concert Hall, HK Cultural Centre

Speaker: Perry So, HKPO Assistant Conductor

Free admission to these talks

About the speakers

“Both Zhang Xian and Perry So are rare talents in recent years… his prospects have no limit.“ Prof. Leo Ou-fan Lee, Ming Pao Daily

Perry So joined the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in October 2008 as Assistant Conductor. In the same year, he was awarded the First Prize laureate of the 5th International Prokofiev Conducting Competition, held in St Petersburg, Russia. He was the youngest ever First-Prize winner in the history of the Competition. He was also a prize winner at the 2008 Mitropoulous Competition held in Athens, Greece, and was commended by the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR government for his international musical accomplishments.


Edo de Waart
Artistic Director and Chief Conductor

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) is one of Asia’s leading orchestras. 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. HKPO annually touches the lives of 200,000 music lovers through more than 150 performances including its extensive education activities for children and adults alike, and free concerts such as the popular Swire Symphony Under the Stars, and regular broadcasts and telecasts. Outside of Hong Kong, HKPO has made a number of successful tours in Asia and Europe including a major six-concert tour of China in the 08/09 season under the leadership of Maestro Edo de Waart, drawing great critical acclaims. [Full Biography]

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.
The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is the Venue Partner of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.