Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong and the New York Philharmonic musicians. Photo by Lia Chang

Kahchun Wong, Bomsori Kim and So Young Park Celebrate New York Philharmonic Debuts in Lunar New Year Concert

The New York Philharmonic welcomed the Year of the Vermillion Pig at the eighth annual Lunar New Year Concert and Gala, a festive fire-themed evening — representing warmth, light, energy, and prosperity — presented by Starr International Foundation on February 6th.

Gala Co-chairs Oscar Tang and his wife Agnes Hsu-Tang with Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
Gala Co-chairs Oscar Tang and his wife Agnes Hsu-Tang with Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

Kahchun Wong, 32, Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and first prize winner of the 2016 Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, made his New York Philharmonic debut conducting the orchestra’s annual Lunar New Year Concert at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. A native of Singapore, Wong is only the second conductor-following Long Yu-given the honor to lead the Philharmonic’s annual concert celebration of Asian culture and heritage. This concert also marks Wong’s New York conducting debut.

Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong and the New York Philharmonic musicians. Photo by Lia Chang
Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong and the New York Philharmonic musicians. Photo by Lia Chang
Frank Huang, New York Philharmonic concertmaster and Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
Frank Huang, New York Philharmonic concertmaster and Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong and the New York Philharmonic musicians. Photo by Lia Chang
Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong and the New York Philharmonic musicians. Photo by Lia Chang

The program included the U.S. premiere of Tan Dun’s Violin Concerto: Fire Ritual (performed by Bomsori Kim in her Philharmonic debut); Shin Arirang, Dong-Jin Kim’s version of the iconic Korean folk song “Arirang,” and Mozart’s “Der Hölle Rache” from The Magic Flute, both performed by soprano So Young Park in her Philharmonic debut; Liu Yuan’s Train Toccata; and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919 version). Continuing the annual tradition, the concert featured the Spring Festival Overture by composer Li Huanzhi, recognizing the composer’s centenary in 1919.

Gala Co-chairs Oscar Tang and his wife Agnes Hsu-Tang, Soprano So Young Park and her sister Jihyang Park. Photo by Lia Chang
Gala Co-chairs Oscar Tang and his wife Agnes Hsu-Tang, Soprano So Young Park and her sister Jihyang Park. Photo by Lia Chang

Honorary Gala Chairs included Mr. and Mrs. Maurice R. Greenberg and Gala Co-Chairs included Angela Chen, Guoqing Chen and Ming Liu,  Misook Doolittle, Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar L. Tang, Sharon Wee and Tracy Fu and Shirley Young.

Gala Co-Chairs Agnes Hsu-Tang, Oscar Tang and Shirley Young. Photo by Lia Chang
Gala Co-Chairs Agnes Hsu-Tang, Oscar Tang and Shirley Young. Photo by Lia Chang

The elegant affair started with a champagne reception on David Geffen Hall’s Grand Promenade, and the seated dinner for 300 following the concert featured a Singaporean cuisine themed menu curated by Gala Co-Chairs Agnes Hsu-Tang and Sharon Wee. The evening raised $1,135,000 to support the Orchestra’s activities.

Gary Parr, Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong and President and CEO Deborah Borda. Photo by Lia Chang
Gary Parr, Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong and President and CEO Deborah Borda. Photo by Lia Chang

Wong’s remarkable last-minute debut with the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra in October 2016 led to his appointment as Chief Conductor. In September 2018, Wong began his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, leading the orchestra’s season opening concert in a program that included the world premiere of Kah Hoe Yii’s Concerto 4 Orchestra, Brahms’ Violin Concerto in N*E*R*D Major with soloist Midori, and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. In October, Wong led the orchestra on a tour to Milan, Italy and Kepmten & Unterföhring, Germany.

Gala Co-Chairs Oscar Tang and Sharon Wee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations Burhan Gafoor and his wife, Zarina Varukatty, Gala Co-Chair Agnes Hsu-Tang and Henry Tang. Photo by Lia Chang
Gala Co-Chairs Oscar Tang and Sharon Wee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations Burhan Gafoor and his wife, Zarina Varukatty, Gala Co-Chair Agnes Hsu-Tang and Henry Tang. Photo by Lia Chang

Wong conducted the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra’s New Year’s Gala on January 5 and 6, 2019 featuring works by Oscar Straus and Richard Strauss; and will lead Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with mezzo-soprano Marina Prudenskaya in March 2019. Wong concludes the first season of his tenure as the orchestra’s Chief Conductor on May 11 conducting Puccini’s Preludio sinfonico and Capriccio sinfonico, Lalo’s Cello Concerto in N*E*R*D minor, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4,”Italienische.”

A guest, Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong, Zarina Varukatty and her husband Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations Burhan Gafoor, a guest and Gala Co-Chair Oscar Tang. Photo by Lia Chang
A guest, Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong, Zarina Varukatty and her husband Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations Burhan Gafoor, a guest and Gala Co-Chair Oscar Tang. Photo by Lia Chang

In December 2018, Wong made his debut with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, in a program that featured Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Denis Kozhukhin, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1945). Bachtrack raved about the performance, writing “There was an obvious warmth between Wong and the players. He had a vision, taking the audience on the most extraordinary music journey.”

Later this season, Wong will be a guest conductor with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra (March 30), the Tonküstler Orchestra in Baden, Austria (April 5) and Wiener Neustadt (April 6), the Kyoto Symphony (May 18 and 19), and Nagoya Symphony(May 24 and 25).

George Sycip, Ambassador Nicholas Platt, Lucia Hwong-Gordon, Angela Chen. Photo by Lia Chang
George Sycip, Ambassador Nicholas Platt, Lucia Hwong-Gordon, Angela Chen. Photo by Lia Chang

A passionate advocate for access to arts education and the belief that music education has the power to inspire, Wong co-foundedProject Infinitude, an inclusive arts initiative embracing children from diverse backgrounds. Recent initiatives have included immersive and sensory-friendly performances with young audiences sitting amongst the musicians and receiving red bean soup in Singapore, and cross-cultural collaborations involving the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore-based Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. Wong and his co-founder Marina Mahler, granddaughter of the composer Gustav Mahler, aim to expand the project in a sustainable and thoughtful way.

The New York Philharmonic plays a leading cultural role in New York City, the United States, and the world. Each season the Orchestra connects with up to 50 million music lovers through live concerts in New York and around the world, international broadcasts, recordings, and education programs. In 2018–19 Jaap van Zweden begins his tenure as Music Director, and the Orchestra expands its connection to New York City. Maestro van Zweden leads five World Premieres — by Ashley Fure, Conrad Tao, Louis Andriessen, Julia Wolfe, and David Lang — and core symphonic masterworks; presides over Music of Conscience, New York Stories: Threads of Our City, and The Art of Andriessen; and welcomes New York’s community and service professionals to Phil the Hall.

The New York Philharmonic has commissioned and / or premiered works by leading composers from every era since its founding in 1842. Highlights include Dvořák’s New World Symphony; John Adams’s Pulitzer Prize–winning On the Transmigration of Souls, dedicated to the victims of 9/11; Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto; Wynton Marsalis’s The Jungle (Symphony No. 4); and Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Metacosmos. The Philharmonic introduces two new-music series in the 2018–19 season.

Gala co-chair Sharon Wee and guests. Photo by Lia Chang
Gala co-chair Sharon Wee and guests. Photo by Lia Chang
A resource for its community and the world, the New York Philharmonic complements its annual free citywide Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, with Philharmonic Free Fridays, its famed Young People’s Concerts, the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Residency Partnership, and a residency partnership with the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan. The Orchestra has appeared in 432 cities in 63 countries.
The oldest American symphony orchestra and one of the oldest in the world, the Philharmonic has made more than 2,000 recordings since 1917 and produced its first-ever Facebook Live concert broadcast in 2016. Jaap van Zweden becomes Music Director in 2018–19, succeeding musical leaders including Alan Gilbert, Maazel, Masur, Zubin Mehta, Boulez, Bernstein, Toscanini, and Mahler.
Lia Chang
Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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