Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vienna-trained violinist Hwang Wei-ming named new director of Taipei Symphony Orchestra

By Nancy T. Lu

Hwang Wei-ming, a violinist trained both in Europe and in America, is taking over as the new and incoming general director. of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra on December 1, announced Taipei Vice Mayor Lee Yong-ping today. The president of the Soochow University has agreed to let him leave his job as dean of the music conservatory on short notice, she added.

Hwang’s challenging new job in the TSO marking a 40-year milestone this year will require him to steer the orchestra and let it truly take off internationally.

Taipei Vice Mayor Lee noted Hwang’s international experience as “a big plus” in favor of his appointment.

Hwang’s credentials, notably his track record of outstanding performance and experience as a student first in Vienna and later in Cincinnati, are perceived by those consulted by the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs as likely to be helpful in guiding the orchestra to achieve clear goals in the domestic and international fronts.

,“My role will be that of a bridge in linking the orchestra I know well with the world at large in the spirit of city diplomacy, in reaching out to the community and even in interacting with the schools,” Hwang said after Taipei Vice Mayor Lee formally announced his appointment in Taipei on November 19. “I hope to help show that Taipei has a great orchestra.”

Hwang’s official appointment as the TSO’s new general director capped a period of serious search mainly in the best-known music conservatories in Taiwan. Other candidates were considered but he stood out as the most qualified. The 49-years-old Hwang, in fact, is relinquishing his post as dean of the music conservatory at the Soochow University after serving there for 16 years to report to the TSO on December 1.

Hsu Po-yun, a composer, promoter of the arts and policy adviser, highly endorsed Hwang’s appointment. He compared Hwang to the baseball player who started in the Little League and then moved from Minor League all the way up to Major League over the years. Hsu has known Hwang directly as a performing artist for he has played his original music compositions in concerts. Hwang should be able to draw from his training and experience in managing the orchestra, according to Hsu. The behind-the-scene administrative work would be the most difficult, Hsu warned.

Hwang admitted that human relations would be an area of great challenge. His wife, Liao Ching-hui, has stepped in so far to advise him in this area, the ever-grateful Hwang pointed out. He would need to communicate well with his musicians, he said.

“The failure of an orchestra can only be due to the failure of the conductor,” said Tsang Chen-yee, the president of the Taiwan-Austria Arts Association. “Hwang Wei-ming’s experience in Vienna especially in the ORF-Symphonie Orchester makes me feel confident about the TSO’s development continuing under him.”Tseng called on Vice Mayor Lee to help win greater government subsidy for the TSO to carry out the orchestra's goals.

Ju Tzong-ching, president of the Taipei National University of the Arts, described Hwang as “a person who prefers to keep a low profile.” Hwang’s dedication to his work is remarkable, he observed. Ju like Hwang graduated from music studies in Vienna in 1982. Of their student days in Vienna, he recalled Hwang as shining brightly like the sun. At the age of 19, Hwang became the assistant concertmaster of the ORF-Symphonie Orchester. Ju urged Hwang to give importance to the marketing of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.

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