Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra’s new season with Jaap van Zweden

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) announces the first season with Jaap van Zweden installed as the new music director.

Mr. van Zweden will conduct six programmes. Not an impressive number but something new nonetheless, including Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem. He will also conduct Mahler’s first symphony in a separate concert.

In the launch ceremony, Chief Executive Michael MacLeod says there will be innovative programmings, including the season end’s The Planets suite, collaborating with the Hong Kong Space Museum next door to have the planets concerned shown during the performance. Expect a flood of Voyager, or better still, Galileo, Cassini and some even more dated spacecrafts flyby and rocky planet landing pictures.

More historically inclined programme would be the concert with concert staging of operas by Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, re-enacting an operatic competition between the two composers with Prima la musica e poi le parole (First music, then words) and Der Schauspieldirektor (The impresario). Another historical re-enactment is the Le sacre du printemps, to be performed roughly coinciding with its centenary of première, with Frédéric Chopin’s Les Sylphides. Most people says the Igor Stravinsky’s cacophony caused the notorious scandal; some says it’s the unusual Parisian heat to blame; and some other says it’s the lovely Les Sylphides that preceded Le sacre made the latter a disastrous “murderer of art.” You listen and judge yourself with your pair of 21st-century ears.

New season doesn’t lack stars. Yundi, Lang Lang, Simon Trpčeski, to name some. Anne-Sophie Mutter will perform the Time Machine by Sebastian Currier; grab a disc to have a listen before you go, or you may read my Chinese review of the disc first. Among many guest conductors I would greatly expect Antoni Wit, the Polish master who has made just so many fine recordings. He is playing Eroica Symphony (What? Nothing from Poland?)

And there comes the revival of Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus. There is not yet any long term plan for this chorus which existed and disbanded during passing on of batons, the chorus will sing the complete Messiah in Easter.

And there comes some revisiting conductors. Lawrence Renes, who has subbed in for Edo de Waart last year’s opening, will conduct Dmitri Shostakovich’s gigantic Leningrad. Jun Märkl, who will conduct some French works in a concert this coming June, will also continue in the next season with a Brahms. David Atherton, the then-then-then-MD, will lead in a concert of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony with Simon Preston. How many times has this bill recurred in the HKPO brochure throughout the years?

The new season is announced with a staged flash mob of musicians playing Boléro, with the timpani, gong and cymbal lands suddenly in front of me.

Timpani in front of me. See who’s playing?

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