Wong Kah Chun appointed chief conductor of Japan Philharmonic Orchestra

Wong Kah Chun conducting the Orchestre Nationale d'ile de France in Paris in October 2020. PHOTO: ORCHESTRE NATIONALE D'ILE DE FRANCE

SINGAPORE- Singaporean conductor Wong Kah Chun has been appointed chief conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2021, the 35-year-old became the principal conductor of the orchestra, a position he still holds. Wong will begin his five-year appointment as chief conductor in September 2023.

Known internationally as Kahchun Wong, he rose to international acclaim after winning the first prize at the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in 2016.

He was the first Asian to become chief conductor of Germany's Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra in 2018. He was also conferred the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his service and achievements in Singaporean-German cultural relations and spreading German music abroad.

His concerts this April with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall in the United States received critical acclaim and were broadcast on radio.

This June, he will make his debut at the Dresdner Musikfestspiele in Germany, conducting the Dresden Philharmonic.

Following his appointment as Japan Philharmonic's chief conductor, he will lead 12 concerts every season at Suntory Hall, Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre and other regional venues as part of his extensive tour through Japan.

Beyond his present exploration of Mahler symphonies, he will conduct programmes focusing on Western composers, such as Bela Bartok, Leos Janacek and Claude Debussy, as well as Japanese composers Akira Ifukube, Yasushi Akutagawa and Toshio Hosokawa.

He will also helm socio-cultural projects such as the ongoing Bring Music To The Affected Areas, an initiative in Japan's Tohoku region in response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Mr Toshikuni Hirai, president and chief executive of the Japan Philharmonic, said in a statement that he looks forward to Wong's leadership in both "artistic and social spheres".

Wong said he is grateful for the opportunity, noting the Japan Philharmonic's "shokunin damashi", or deep dedication to mastering their craft.

He added: "I am very excited for the next stage of our musical journey together."

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