The pride of the city, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, returns to HKUST in a chamber orchestra line-up under the baton of conductor Peter Biloen (Netherlands). The concert showcases the power and diversity of colors that the ensemble is capable of projecting, with repertoire ranging from early Romanticism to the present day. The program includes the Asian premiere of a new work by Augusta Read Thomas, and world premiere by HKUST’s Composer-in-Residence, Ilari Kaila.
- Richard Wagner (1813–1883): Siegfried Idyll
- Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964): Dance Mobile (Asian premiere)
- Ilari Kaila (b. 1978): Veden väki (world premiere)
- Arthur Honegger (1892–1952): Pastorale d'été
The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
Peter Biloen, conductor
Anders Hui, violin
Zhao Yingna, violin
Li Jiali, viola
Richard Bamping, cello
George Lomdaridze, double bass
Megan Sterling, flute
Michael Wilson, oboe
Wang Yu-Po, oboe/English horn
Andrew Simon, clarinet
John Schertle, clarinet
Benjamin Moermond, bassoon
Lin Jiang, horn
Russell Bonifede, horn
Christopher Moyse, trumpet
Jarod Vermette, trombone
Aziz D. Barnard Luce, percussion
Samuel Chan, percussion
Linda Yim, piano
Peter Biloen was the first Dutch conductor to reach the finals of London’s international Donatella Flick Conducting Competition of 2004, directing the London Symphony Orchestra in concert. He was awarded the Anton Kersjes Foundation’s national conducting prize and the prestigious Academy Conductor Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival. An expert interpreter of both classic and modern repertoire, he has been hailed by the press for his precise interpretations as well as his adventurous and groundbreaking programming.
In much demand as a guest conductor, Biloen’s recent engagements have included appearances with the Orchestre National de Montpellier, deFilharmonie, the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, Het Gelders Orkest, and Philharmonie Zuidnederland. Passionate about opera, Biloen conducted Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Summer Opera of Alden Biesen in 2009, Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel at the Royal Theater in The Hague in 2011, and operas by Haydn, Marschner, and Pashkevich in the Grachten Festival of Amsterdam from 2008 to 2012.
Biloen has conducted world premieres and collaborated with numerous renowned composers, including Witold Lutosławski, John Cage, and Pierre Boulez in performances of their works in Europe, the United States, Russia, and China. World premieres he has conducted include works by Ron Ford, Fung Lam, Reza Namavar, and Marijn Simons. An accomplished violist, Biloen draws on his rich experience performing under such conductors as Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Chailly, Carlo Maria Giulini, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Sanderling, and Evgeny Svetlanov.
After earning degrees at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 1992 and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague in 1998, Biloen continued to study with such mentors as Jorma Panula, Yuri Simonov, David Zinman, Ed Spanjaard, Jac Van Steen and Hans Vonk.
One of the most widely performed living composers in America today, Augusta Read Thomas (“a true virtuoso composer” —The New York Times) has won the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and was featured on a Grammy-winning CD by Chanticleer. In 2016, Thomas was named the Chicagoan of the Year. Championed by such luminaries as Barenboim, Rostropovich, Boulez, Eschenbach, Salonen, Maazel, Ozawa, and Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession. The American Academy of Arts and Letters described Thomas as “one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American Music.”
Recent and upcoming commissions include those from the Santa Fe Opera in collaboration with the San Francisco Opera and other opera companies, PEAK Performances at Montclair State University and the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Cathedral Choral Society of Washington D.C., the Indianapolis Symphony, Tanglewood, the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Des Moines Symphony, Boston Symphony, Utah Symphony, Wigmore Hall in London, JACK quartet, Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, Chicago Philharmonic, Eugene Symphony, the Danish Chamber Players, Notre Dame University, Lorelei Vocal Ensemble, and the Fromm Foundation.
Thomas is a University Professor of Composition in Music and the College at the University of Chicago. Thomas was the longest-serving Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for conductors Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez (1997–2006). She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Ilari Kaila is a Finnish-American composer whose music has been described with words such as “haunting”, “intriguing”, “engaging … soulful” (The New York Times), “nearly unbearable beauty… A modern masterpiece” (The WholeNote), “melodically euphoric” (Rondo Classic), “hypnotic… trancelike… fascinatingly colorful” (New York Music Daily), “I kept coming back to it… the music is so beautiful, and I want to experience it again and again” (Orchestergraben—5 Best New Music Albums of 2020), “magnificent and glistening” (Amfion), “powerfully resonating” (Helsingin Sanomat), “haunting” (The New Yorker), and “Kaila brings with him an exciting message of rebirth built upon classical foundations” (Percorsi Musicali—Best of 2020).
His work has been presented by the MATA Festival in New York City, including the inaugural composer portrait concert in the “MATA Continued” series (“offering return engagements by some of its brightest discoveries” — Steve Smith, The New Yorker); as the Composer-in-Residence of the Chelsea Music Festival in New York and Taipei; at the American Music Festival in Albany; the Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong; the Metropolis Festival in Australia; the Banff Centre Summer Arts Festival in Canada; and the New York International Fringe Festival. Artists and ensembles Kaila has worked with include the Escher String Quartet, Aizuri Quartet, Tanglewood New Fromm Players, Alcott Trio, Kamus Quartet, Uusinta Ensemble, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, Emil Holmström, Melinda Masur, Rachel Cheung, Olli Mustonen, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Avanti Chamber Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Joensuu Symphony Orchestra, Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s chamber ensembles. An album of Kaila’s chamber music, recorded by the Aizuri Quartet and pianist Adrienne Kim, was released on the Innova Recordings label in March 2020.
Richard Wagner: Siegfried Idyll. The Siegfried of the work’s title has many faces. He is the hero of Wagner’s mythical The Ring of the Nibelung, an epic cycle of four operas, and the titular character of the third one. Siegfried was also the name of Wagner’s son, and the intimate Idyll was originally written as a birthday present for Wagner’s wife, Cosima, soon after Siegfried’s birth in 1869. Though it is a standalone work—intended originally as a private piece of music for the family—Wagner reused some of its materials in the opera Siegfried, premiered seven years later at the Bayreuth Festival Theatre. In 1906, Siegfried Wagner went on to manage the annual festival of his father’s works in Bayreuth, where the Ring cycle has been performed almost every year to this day—currently under the directorship of Katharina Wagner, Siegfried’s granddaughter.
Augusta Read Thomas: Dance Mobile — In memoriam Oliver Knussen. The word “mobile” denotes both the noun: a decorative structure that is suspended so as to turn freely in the air, as well as the adjective: lively, sprightly, spry, energetic, vigorous; animated, traveling, flexible, versatile, changing, fluid, on the move. On this mobile, three circa-4-minute dances are hanging. Between them are moments floating in the air until the suspended mobile is activated and set into motion. To be performed with dancers when feasible. Dance Mobile is a spin-off of material Augusta developed in an earlier work.
Commissioned by the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music in Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Eastman School of Music. Dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Brad Lubman, Musica Nova, and the Eastman School of Music. Duration 14 minutes.
Ilari Kaila: Veden väki. I composed this work at the same time as I was co-writing, with Tuomas Kaila, the first sketches for an as yet unfinished children’s opera. The mermaid at the center of our story brought with her images of an entire nation of elusive undersea creatures. In Finnish mythology, veden väki refers not only to the supernatural creatures populating the waters but their particular magic—the word “väki” meaning both “people” and “power”. I was also inspired by the minimalist classics that Veden väki was originally programmed with at the Minimalia Festival.
This work was co-commissioned by the Uuden Ajan Ensemble led by conductor Tapio von Boehm and the Minimalia Festival in Helsinki, with funds from the Madetoja Foundation and Teosto. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the premiere in Finland was postponed, and by kind permission of the commissioning parties, the work receives its first performance by the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Arthur Honegger: Pastorale d'été (Summer Pastoral). Unlike many symphonic poems, Honegger’s Pastorale is not an attempt to evoke a story, a poem, or a picture, but to convey the peaceful, meditative atmosphere of an early morning in the Swiss Alps. His first notable orchestral work, written in 1920, Pastorale d'été is often compared with Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, dating more than 25 years earlier. But whereas Debussy’s music was, already in the late 1800s, iconoclastic and shockingly modern, Honegger represents the latest stages of Romanticism in the 20th century. The composer inscribed the score with a quote from the French Romantic poet Arthur Rimbaud: “I have embraced the summer dawn.”