Noted conductor makes unplanned return for National Symphony Orchestra

Taipei, The incoming artistic advisor of the National Symphony Orchestra is in Taiwan on an unplanned visit to stand in as conductor for three upcoming concerts in March.

Fresh out of 14 days in quarantine and seven days of self-health management, Germany’s Jun Märkl told reporters in Taipei Tuesday that it was a surprise when he was asked to step in after another conductor, Leonard Slatkin, decided not to travel to Taiwan for the planned concerts.

The Munich-based conductor, who is to begin a three-year tenure as the orchestra’s artistic advisor in August, will perform in a March 18 concert at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, the program of which will comprise Beethoven’s “Overture to Egmont,” Haydn’s “Symphony No. 99 in E-flat major” and Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”

He will then be joined by the orchestra’s artist in residence for this season, violinist Paul Huang (黃俊文), for two concerts, one at the National Concert Hall in Taipei on March 26 and another at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts on March 28.

In addition to conducting the three concerts and giving master classes, Märkl said he will use his time in Taiwan to learn about the place, which he first visited in 1979, so that he can help develop the orchestra in his new post.

Reiterating his vision of building bridges between places and people, Märkl said he will endeavor to find a way to connect classical music, which he described as something very “European,” with local cultures and traditions.

The conductor also shed some light on his plans for the orchestra in his coming tenure, including focusing on music from a specific country, composer and theme, such as nature or freedom, as well as “opening doors to Taiwanese composers” by encouraging them to create music about Taiwan.

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes planning a new season “very difficult,” Märkl said he hopes for a normal season, but also has a plan B with the orchestra, so that they can “have some kind of security.”

From the start of the 2020-2021 season, the orchestra has been adjusting the line-up of its concerts due to overseas guest performers’ cancellations of their scheduled appearances in Taiwan as a result of travel restrictions caused by COVID-19.

The orchestra has enlisted help from local musicians and those from abroad who are willing to undergo 14 days of quarantine in Taiwan, in a bid to present concerts as scheduled.

Although the pandemic has forced artists to explore new media as new communication tools and online concerts, Märkl said he hopes the crisis will be over soon, because the in-person experiences of a live concert are still important for the musicians, so that they can see, feel and then respond to live audiences.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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