The Dutch conductor Edo de Waart has extended his contract as artistic director and chief conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra through 2012.
Mr. Edward ST Ho, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society Ltd., announced the news to the audience at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre at the close of this evening's performance, which featured Strauss's Four Last Songs with soprano Soile Isokoski and de Waart conducting Mahler's Sixth Symphony.
"This is a thrilling and timely development," said Ho in his statement, "which will see Maestro de Waart build on the tremendous achievements of the last three years and will guarantee the Orchestra's emergence as the leading musical force in this region ... The future of music in Hong Kong is looking very bright indeed."
Widely considered one of the best orchestra builders in the business, de Waart came to the Hong Kong Philharmonic in October 2004 after a successful decade as chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony. (He has also served as music director or chief conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Netherlands Opera.)
Since de Waart's arrival in Hong Kong, the Philharmonic's musical standing has risen, paid attendance has increased more than 20%, and income from ticket sales and fundraising has grown by more than 50%.
"We have worked extremely hard in these last three years, and the Orchestra and I have had some very exciting concerts," said de Waart in a statement, "so I'm very happy that we have extended my contract. This week's Mahler 6 has been a wonderful reminder of how good it is to work with them and what they are capable of."
As the press release issued by orchestra management put it, "The announcement [of de Waart's contract extension] dispelled any speculation that the Maestro would be leaving Hong Kong, following his decision to move his family to the United States earlier this year" — a decision that caused a minor to-do when it became public.