Phil chief to stay extra 3 years

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2007, 12:00am

Dutch maestro Edo de Waart has agreed to extend his contract as chief conductor and artistic director of Hong Kong's leading professional symphony orchestra by three years, to 2012.

The announcement was made to the audience at the end of last night's concert by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by de Waart at the Cultural Centre Concert Hall.

It comes months after de Waart revealed he was moving his family out of the city after just three years - to protect them from the 'terrible' air pollution. His son Sebastiaan had asthma problems, he revealed in April.

'Hong Kong is an incredibly vital and exciting city and I would tell anybody to live here for a while. But you lose your overall picture of what life is all about,' he said.

The conductor, 66, had an option to extend his contract until 2014. He said in April it was too early to say how much longer he would serve, but added Hong Kong was likely to be his last major posting. His contract requires him to spend 14 weeks a year with the orchestra.

Last year Australian newspapers reported the Perth-based West Australian Symphony Orchestra was set to make de Waart its chief conductor, but in the end he chose to stay with the Philharmonic.

Last night's concert featured a performance of Gustav Mahler's sixth symphony, continuing de Waart's acclaimed Mahler series with the orchestra.