Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, HPO, and the orchestra's newly appointed 12th chief conductor, Mr. John Storgards, performed in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen from August 18 to 23 after bring cordially invited by China's Ministry of Culture. In the orchestra's 126 year history this is the first time they have visited China.
The concerts in Beijing were held on August 18th and 19th in the National Centre for the Performing Arts, nick-named "the Egg" due to its interesting shape. It is an elliptic titanium-glass-construction surrounded by an artificial lake. The Egg's three halls can hold as many as 6,500 listeners.
Beijing's concerts on August 18th and 19th was conducted by Mr. John Storgårds. On August 19th the soloist for Sibelius violin concerto was Ms. Wang Zhijiong who at the age of 18 won third prize in Jean Sibelius violin contest 2000.
Concerts in Shanghai, on August 21st, and Shenzhen, on August 23rd, were conducted by Mr. Okko Kamu with Ms. Wang Zhijiong as the soloist. Aulis Sallinen's "At the Palace Gate" was played as the opening piece.
Introduction to Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
In 1882 Robert Kajanus formed the first professional symphony orchestra in the Nordic countries, in Helsinki. He was to remain the Chief Conductor for a legendary half century. In 1892-1923 the HPO gave the first performances of almost all the symphonic works by Sibelius with the composer himself conducting. Kajanus was succeeded by Jorma Panula, Paavo Berglund, Okko Kamu and Leif Segerstam (1995-2007). Violinist-conductor John Storgårds has been appointed as Chief Conductor of the HPO from for the 2008/2009 season.
In addition to the 70-80 concerts it plays each year at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki the HPO has visited most of the countries in Europe and been on four tours to both the United States and Japan. In spring 2004 the HPO visited Brazil and Argentina; this was the first concert tour of South America by a Finnish symphony orchestra.
Works by Jean Sibelius and Einojuhani Rautavaara (Cannes Classical Awards) have featured on the highly-acclaimed albums made by the HPO. Sibelius’ recordings under the baton of Segerstam began with the Lemminkäinen Legends and the violin concerto (sol. Pekka Kuusisto). The Ondine record company and the HPO have continued their long-standing partnership with a new recording of the complete Sibelius symphonies (2005) and Kullervo (2008).
The recent disc of solo songs by Sibelius with orchestral accompaniments, featuring soprano Soile Isokoski and maestro Segerstam, was awarded the MIDEM Classical Award 2007 and the BBC Music Magazine’s Disc of the Year 2007 Award. In spring 2008 the HPO released with great success its first disc of music by Richard Wagner (sol. Juha Uusitalo) under Leif Segerstam.
Editor: Feng Hui