The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra begins a tour in the Chinese mainland next week under the baton of its music director Jaap Van Zweden.
The all-Beethoven program includes “Egmont Overture,” Violin Concerto in D major” and “Symphony No. 5.” The tour will stop in Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Guangzhou.
Born in Amsterdam, Zweden is one of the world’s most sought after conductors. As a violinist, he was appointed the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s youngest concertmaster ever at age 19. His career as a conductor started in 1995, successively holding the chief conductor positions at the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Residentie Orchestra of The Hague and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra.
Along with being music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, he serves in the same capacity for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and as honorary chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.
Zweden has appeared as guest conductor with leading orchestras including Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
This tour is Zweden’s debut as a conductor in China, says Michael MacLeod, chief executive of Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. This year also marks the orchestra’s 40th anniversary season as a professional orchestra.
“The other orchestras he (Zweden) has worked with are of the very top, and I think that’s great for us that we have a music director who is so highly regarded,” MacLeod says.
As the largest and busiest musical organization in Hong Kong, the orchestra presents over 150 concerts annually. It features elite international conductors and soloists who perform a broad variety of music selections as well as education projects in the communities.
MacLeod says he remembers taking the job with the orchestra in 2011. One of the first things he did was travel to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to talk about doing concerts.
Apart from the mainland, the orchestra has largely stayed in Hong Kong since 2001.
It performed in Taipei for the first time in two decades in December.
They have a major tour of Europe planned for February and March 2015, and one to the United States in May 2016.
Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma will join the tour in China, performing Beethoven’s violin concerto.
A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, she has performed with leading orchestras like Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre National de France and Dallas Symphony.