The head of the city’s flagship orchestra has blasted the government’s lack of appreciation for the local band in its decision to bring the Berlin Philharmonic for next year’s 20th anniversary of the SAR. Michael MacLeod, chief executive of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra since 2011, urged the government to realise its company of professional musicians are as capable as Berlin’s. “This Special Administrative Region needs to wake up,” MacLeod said in an exclusive interview with the Post . He described the city orchestra’s music director Jaap van Zweden as “one of the great conductors of our time”. Review: Hong Kong Philharmonic principals shine in timpanist’s world premiere and Haydn showpiece “Give me one other conductor you know of who has conducted in the previous three consecutive weeks the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra,” he said. “That’s what our conductor has just done.” As attention is showered on the Berlin Philharmonic, which during its tour in 2005 commanded the city’s highest ticket price to date for a classical music concert at HK$2,500, MacLeod asked why authorities failed to appreciate the Hong Kong Philharmonic led by a world-class conductor who, he said, was probably the most “in demand” in the world. He claimed even Berlin’s renowned outgoing conductor Simon Rattle “didn’t book American orchestras” like Van Zweden. Controversy has also erupted over the naming of Lang Lang as the featured pianist at the two Berlin Phil concerts next November. Yo-Yo Ma on the joys of opening the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s new season The mainland-born and raised Hong Kong resident, 34, was featured at the SAR’s 10th anniversary concert with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2006. His appearance next year suggested Hong Kong could not produce a home-grown artist for the event. Professor Gabriel Kwok of the Academy for Performing Arts said he did not think any Hong Kong pianist rivalled Lang in technique or international fame. “But then [the decision] depends very much on how the negotiation is done between the presenter (the government) and the visiting orchestra,” he added. Kwok, mentor to a host of accomplished local pianists such as Lio Kuok-man, said he would have had no trouble proposing a pianist for the Berlin Phil if it had asked for one. But he noted “top orchestras normally perform with the same soloist on tour”. Lang was already scheduled to appear with the Berlin Phil next year. Hong Kong Philharmonic ‘awkwardly’ out of tune in debate over legacy of ‘father of modern China’ Sun Yat-sen In a reply to the Post , the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said the Berlin Phil selected its soloist and that the presentation would be covered by an unspecified “special fund” as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations. “We expect a total of 12,000 audiences, indoor and outdoor, to enjoy the performance of the Berlin Phil under its music director Simon Rattle before his departure in 2018,” the spokesman said in a statement. MacLeod nevertheless expressed gratitude for the support his company had received for its international tour next spring. “The HK Phil is delighted with the HKSAR government’s support of our tour next April and May to Seoul, Osaka, Singapore, Melbourne and the Sydney Opera House as a part of the anniversary celebrations,” he said.