The MPO offers an exhilirating 15th season and its new general manager, Timothy Tsukamoto, tells Aref Omar what’s in store
NEXT month, the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP), featuring the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), kicks off a new season with some 100 exhilarating concerts in the pipeline.
“This 2012/13 Season will see DFP and MPO continuing the original mission to provide the best in arts and culture, as well as to further elevate the local entertainment and classical scene,” says new MPO general manager Timothy Tsukamoto.
It will begin with DFP Seni Festival, a celebration of the country’s rich and diverse culture. This third instalment will showcase the likes of Professional Cultural Center Orchestra, The Alleycats and Jay Jay.
“There’ll be a keroncong concert, featuring the MPO with Datuk Yusni Hamid and Datin Paduka Julie Sudiro, as well as a collaboration between MPO musicians and those from the Perak Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kinta Valley Wind Orchestra and the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra,” says Tsukamoto.
The opening highlight will be the Gala Concert in September, which will see an enchanting performance of Verdi’s La Traviata by the MPO and its music director, Claus Peter Flor. It will include a collaboration with soprano Sonya Yoncheva, tenor Jean FranÁois Borras and baritone Alberto Gazale.
“Ballet lovers are in for a treat in January, 2013, when the DFP, for the first time, presents a ballet festival featuring Giselle and Swan Lake,” he says, adding that the MPO, conducted by Vladimir Artemyev, will be accompanied by dancers from the Russian Ballet St. Petersburg.
“The new season will also see debut performances by renowned artistes such as conductors Antoni Wit, cellist Clemens Hagen, and pianists Makoto Ozone and Helene Grimaud.”
Returning musicians include conductors Carl Davis and Christian Schulz, Spanish guitarist Rafael Serrallet, pianists Yundi Li and Steven Osborne, and violinist Daniel Hope.
Another highlight will be a concert by the Larry Carlton Quartet (September 2012). Formerly of jazz super group Fourplay, the American jazz and fusion guitar legend is a four-time Grammy winner who has released 30 albums and collaborated with the who’s who of the international music industry. If you love jazz, watch out also for A Tribute To Louis Armstrong and Classical Meets Jazz.
On a lighter note, the MPO will offer accessible concerts like The Music Of Harry Porter, Abba Goes Symphonic, Superman vs. Frankenstein and a sure crowd hit, Distant Worlds: Celebrating 25 Years Of Final Fantasy.
Hafiz, who captured the hearts of Malaysians after winning the seventh Akademi Fantasia in 2009, will have a solo concert in June 2013 as part of the DFP Spotlight series.
The MPO will take musical excursions around the world through thematic concerts such as Jewels From France & Spain, Images Of Italy, The Russian Soul, Spanish Sensations and A Musical Journey Across China.
That same month, all nine Beethoven Symphonies will be performed, culminating in a Symphony No. 9 concert featuring the MPO and the Transylvania State Philharmonic Choir as well as a powerful performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
“Aside from concerts, the MPO will focus on its education and outreach activities through our Encounter programme,” says Tsukamoto.
The programme has seen various MPO musicians visiting secondary schools, colleges and universities to share their love of music with the young through live performances and demonstrations. They also conduct informal recitals and give special music presentations to community groups and institutions, which include hospitals, orphanages, old folks’ homes and centres for the disabled.
There will also be a new homegrown orchestra this season. The Encounter Training Orchestra will serve as a stepping stone to all other specialist ensembles such as the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO).
“It’s been a very positive experience and the musicians enjoyed themselves too,” says Tsukamoto.
MANAGING THE MPO
Tsukamoto, who has a Master of Music in Performance & Literature from Eastman School Of Music (University Of Rochester), grew up in California, Utah and later Boston.
“My interest in classical music developed after I started playing the French horn in school,” he says, adding that he played in several orchestras before progressing naturally into the administrative scene.
Tsukamoto has extensive experience in orchestra management and arts administration, having served as personnel administrator and assistant personnel manager of the 130-year-old Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in Massachusetts.
He was also director in the Orchestra Division of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Japan and an administrator of the Tanglewood Music Centre, the annual summer music academy which also serves as the summer home for the BSO.
“It’s a unique opportunity for me — the MPO has a good reputation in the world of classical music and DFP is a beautiful hall with great acoustics,” says Tsukamoto on his decision to manage the MPO (he took up the position in January this year).
“DFP also has the distinct prestige of being housed between two of the world’s tallest towers, which is very impressive,” he says with a smile. “Every orchestra is unique and my challenge is to bring everyone together — from the artistic and business sides — for a successful synergy that will benefit the public through our music efforts.”
Tickets are now available. Call 03-2051 7007. Details at www.mpo.com.my. For information on how Encounter can work with your school or institution, call 03-2051 7688.