'Jaap, To The New World' Honors HK Phil's Music Director's New Venture In New York
As Jaap van Zweden, the esteemed Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HK Phil), embarks on his new venture as Music Director of the world-renowned New York Philharmonic starting the 2018/19 season, the HK Phil honours him with this American-themed programme on 22 & 23 June in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall.
Premiered 125 years ago, rather aptly by the New York Philharmonic Society, Dvo?ák's most popular symphony is perhaps best known for its Cor Anglais solo in the slow movement - playing a theme inspired by the African-American spirituals and plantation songs. In 1892, the Americans invited Dvo?ák to become the Director of the newly-formed National Conservatory of Music. In America, he was desperately homesick and found solace in the songs he heard sung by native Americans as well as in the Spirituals sung by the African-American communities. Something of the flavour of these found their way into his ninth and final Symphony. Although Dvo?ák did not actually borrow any authentic folk melodies for the Symphony, in his own words, "I tried only to write in the spirit of those national melodies".
In the same programme, Andrew Simon, an acclaimed concert soloist as well as the HK Phil's own Principal Clarinet, will take centre stage in Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto, a piece performed by many of the foremost clarinettists worldwide. American composer Copland wrote the Clarinet Concerto on commission from renowned jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman. The piece blends elements of the lyrical and charming to the quirky and energetic, with a cadenza for the soloist connecting the movements.
The concert opens with Leonard Bernstein's scintillating Candide Overture. This is part of our centenary tribute to Bernstein, one of America's most iconic musical figures. With its jagged rhythms, streamingly athletic violins and vulgar brass and percussion interjections, balanced with a briskly sentimental, archetypically American "big tune", it seems to breathe the very essence of America.