CULTURE

Hong Kong Philharmonic conductor cancels two concerts due to shoulder injury

Jaap van Zweden says his shoulder, not protests, forced him to cancel two concerts next week

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 October, 2014, 6:04am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 October, 2014, 6:57am

The conductor of Hong Kong's flagship orchestra was forced to cancel two concerts next week because of a shoulder injury.

"My doctor warned me my future career could be in trouble if I went on with my schedule," said Jaap van Zweden, the music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic since 2012.

"I am taking three weeks off, otherwise my doctor would not be very happy with me. Very sadly I have to cancel my concerts in Hong Kong, Chicago and Dallas."

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Morning Post from his Amsterdam home, the 53-year-old Dutchman said his right shoulder had been in pain for about 18 months.

The first sign of a problem became apparent in late summer when he cancelled his appearance at the Cleveland Orchestra's 2014 Blossom Music Festival.

Last week, acute pain forced him to stop conducting Dmitri Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony with the Dallas Symphony - where he is also music director - after the first two of four concerts. His subsequent concerts with the Chicago Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic were also called off.

Vassily Sinaisky, the incumbent chief conductor of Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, will stand in for the Hong Kong concerts.

Van Zweden is expected to resume conducting in Dallas next month and Hong Kong in December.

He said the three-week break would allow him to carry out the heavy workload in his third concert season with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and a seven-city European tour in March.

"I will cut down my guest conducting here and there, but not my work in Hong Kong and Dallas because they are the priority for me," he said.

The cancellation of Van Zweden's concerts is the third Philharmonic event in recent weeks to require last-minute changes.

Next month's planned collaboration with the late American conductor Lorin Maazel next month required a lineup change after Maazel died in July. The Hong Kong International Piano Competition, originally scheduled for this month, in which the Philharmonic was the accompanying orchestra, was called off because of the Occupy Central protests.

However, despite rumours, Van Zweden insisted his cancellation "has absolutely nothing to do with the protests".

He said: "Whatever happens in Hong Kong, I will never let my orchestra and audience down.

"Even if the audience is divided, I am there for the music, and if music can bring people together and offer a moment of peace, let me have that duty."