Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra wins
Gramophone Orchestra of the Year Award
17 OCT 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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[17 October 2019, Hong Kong] The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HK Phil) was named Orchestra of the Year at the 2019 Gramophone Classical Music Awards ceremony – regarded as the “Oscars of classical music” – in London on Wednesday (16 October 2019) for its outstanding contribution to recorded music in the past year. The HK Phil is the first Asian orchestra to receive this prestigious international award.
The Award “celebrates ensembles that have made significant recorded contributions in the past year and reflects the excellence of music-making across the globe”. The Award was for the HK Phil’s live recordings of the complete Ring Cycle by Richard Wagner on the Naxos label.
“Our Orchestra of the Year 2019, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, is a perfect example of an ensemble galvanised by an inspirational Music Director to give of its best. The Ring Cycle, conducted by Jaap van Zweden and recorded live by Naxos, is a magnificent achievement and clearly prompted numerous music-lovers from all over the globe to vote for this outstanding Asian orchestra. Gramophone is delighted to salute the HK Phil on this much-deserved triumph,” commented James Jolly, Editor-in-Chief, Gramophone.
Under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Jaap van Zweden, the HK Phil completed a four-year project to perform and record Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The full box-set of the cycle was released in November 2018, making the HK Phil the first orchestra in Hong Kong to accomplish such a venture.
Jaap van Zweden said, “The HK Phil is especially proud since we are making history by being the first orchestra in Asia to receive this prestigious and highly acclaimed honour.” Chief Executive Benedikt Fohr deems the accomplishment “a powerful demonstration of the HK Phil's truly world-class quality. We are so proud of the full team of the HK Phil, including Music Director Jaap van Zweden, our musicians and members of staff, the distinguished soloists and Naxos’ production team, who realised this enormous project with great energy and supreme artistry.” Klaus Heymann, Chairman of the Naxos Music Group, who helped transform the HK Phil into a fully professional orchestra in 1974 said, “Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the orchestra would ever record the complete Ring to international acclaim and win Gramophone's Orchestra of the Year. It's a tremendous achievement for the players as well as the Music Director, Jaap van Zweden. Thank you to my international team for bringing this achievement to the attention of the world.” The HK Phil is deeply grateful to the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government for supporting this project through the Contestable Funding Pilot Scheme.
The HK Phil competed with nine other major international ensembles for this Award: Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Staatskapelle Berlin, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia - Rome, San Francisco Symphony and Les Siècles. The nominees were chosen by Gramophone magazine’s editors and critics, and the winner was decided by a public vote.
This Award adds momentum to the HK Phil’s quest to expand its international reputation and inspire audiences in and beyond Hong Kong. The HK Phil will perform in Japan and Korea in 2020 and is planning to tour Europe in 2021 and the US in 2022.
The HK Phil extends its heartfelt gratitude to its supporters including the Hong Kong SAR Government, Principal Patron the Swire Group, and music-lovers in Hong Kong and around the world who voted for the HK Phil to receive this Award.
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More about HK Phil’s Epic Journey of Wagner’s Ring Cycle
Under Jaap van Zweden, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra embarked on a four-year journey to perform the entire Ring Cycle (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung). The orchestra performed one opera annually between 2015 and 2018 in concerts featuring 36 stellar Wagnerian singers and three choruses. Altogether the orchestra gave eight performances of the four operas running to a total of 15 hours and 20 minutes, and attracting an audience of 13,000. Over 100 members of the media attended and generated consistently enthusiastic reviews. The HK Phil is the first orchestra in Asia to accomplish such a venture. The Ring Cycle operas-in-concerts were recorded live and released on the Naxos label.
Critical Acclaim for the HK Phil's Ring Cycle
“A Ring from Hong Kong to take on the world.”
--- Hugo Shirley, Gramophone
“You’re hearing one of the best Wagner orchestras in the world.”
--- Geoff Brown, The Times
“[The HK Phil] “is always utterly secure and ever responsive to [Jaap] van Zweden’s fine-grained control. There’s never a shortage of lustre or refinement…”
--- Andrew Clements, The Guardian
“Götterdämmerung was his [Jaap van Zweden] crowning glory and, by most measures, a phenomenal success.”
--- Alan Yu, Bachtrack
The HK Phil would like to thank the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government and its partners including the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Goethe-Institut Hongkong, Swire Group, Chow Sang Sang, Naxos, The New York Times, the Ring Circle Members, all the patrons and members of the audience for their generous support.