Outgoing chief of HK Philharmonic has Milwaukee contract extended

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 April, 2010, 12:00am

Edo de Waart, who will step down as chief conductor and artistic director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012, has had his contract with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra extended through the 2016-17 season.

Through that term, de Waart, who turns 68 in June, will continue to conduct 12 of the Wisconsin orchestra's 18 classical programmes each year.

De Waart said that having conducted almost all of the world's major orchestras, he had no need for a publicist and was not driven by career ambitions, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Among the things he looks forward to in Milwaukee is learning pieces he has never had a chance to conduct, such as symphonies by Nielsen, Sibelius and Shostakovich, it says.

The news came weeks after the Hong Kong Philharmonic announced the departure of the Dutch maestro after the 2011-12 season.

De Waart, who lives in Middleton, Wisconsin, is the Milwaukee Symphony's sixth music director. Besides being chief conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, he is also conductor laureate of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

The maestro's agent said he would prefer to discuss his future plans with Hong Kong media next month when he would announce the Hong Kong Philharmonic's 2010-11 season, according to an orchestra spokesman.

De Waart's landing of the orchestra in 2004 caused excitement in the city's classical music scene. He brought with him a reputation for brilliant interpretations of symphonic and operatic repertoires, and accolades for his ability to transform orchestras into world-class ensembles.

'When I leave, I hope the [Hong Kong Philharmonic] will be recognised as one of the best orchestras in Asia and will be playing on the same stages as the world's leading orchestras,' he once said in an interview.

The versatile de Waart took the orchestra to Chek Lap Kok airport in 2006 to present a lunchtime concert for airport employees.