5 to 16 June 2019
From June 5 to June 16, we will travelling with Chief Conductor Lahav Shani and violinist Renaud Capuçon to Taiwan and China. Follow this tour blog, and experience this special tour with us.
Photos: Bob Bruyn | Films: Justus Cooiman
Compilation tour by RTV Rijnmond
Film: Last concert of the tour
Photos Shanghai and Beijing
Photo portrait of our principal trumpet players: Alex Elia and Giuliano Sommerhalder
Photographer and violinist Bob Bruyn followed the orchestra’s principal trumpet players Alex Elia and Giuliano Sommerhalder throughout the trip. At the start of the tour, the post horn solo in Mahler’s Third Symphony was programmed for Giuliano. He was following in his father’s footsteps here: ‘My father often played this solo in his career as principal trumpet. So I could draw from a rich spring of experience and knowledge while I was preparing to play it myself.’
As well as Mahler 3, the orchestra took a number of other works to Asia, the majority of which had already been included in previous season’s programming. Alex and Giuliano took turns to play as principal trumpet. ‘The tour can take its toll, with a lot of travelling and playing in differing halls,’ says Alex. ‘So we divided up the programming.’ Nevertheless, playing in varying halls did have its advantages. ‘It’s interesting to play the same music in halls which have different acoustics. It influences your playing,’ according to Giuliano. “And this challenge also affords a chance for personal growth.’
Our orchestra has arrived in the port city of Shanghai, where two concerts are programmed. The stay here is spread over a number of days, so some musicians use this time to get some bespoke clothes made in one of the many tailoring establishments in the city’s famous fabric market. Others work on their figures in the hotel’s gym.
But they all join up at the beginning of the evening on the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall’s podium to prepare for the concert. Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Mayor of Rotterdam, is among those in the audience this evening. He is in Shanghai to lead a trade mission. Our concert is part of a programme celebrating 40 years of Rotterdam and Shanghai as ‘twin’ sister cities.
All those present witness an exceptional concert. Chief conductor Lahav Shani not only demonstrates his qualities as a conductor in Schubert’s Ninth Symphony, he also lets us hear what a gifted pianist he is in Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto No. 1.
Film: Portrait of violinist Hed Yaron Meyerson
Kaohsiung - Zhuhai
After two sold-out concerts in Kaohsiung, the orchestra continues on its travels, to Zhuhai in China. For violinist Alexandra van Beveren this is the first time she has been on tour with the orchestra. She feels it’s a good way to get to know her colleagues better: “On a tour, your normal daily work routine is disrupted. You’re on the road for two weeks, during which you get to know each other in a different way. For example, whenever we give a good performance on tour, it generates a kind of collaborative feeling on the podium. The bond that that creates is wonderful.”
The tour has necessitated a lot of preparatory work for Alexandra. A number of pieces are completely new for her, such as Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, with which chief conductor Lahav Shani made such a deep impression at his inaugural concert. “We are taking a sizable repertoire with us on tour, so it took me a lot of work learn it all. But I know that they are all pieces that the orchestra knows through and through,” says Alexandra. “The Rotterdam Philharmonic is at its best in these works. I’m looking forward so much to being a part of it all!”
Film: First concert in Kaohsiung
On the third day of the tour, architecture and music come together. The orchestra is preparing for its two concerts in the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts. This impressive complex was designed by Francine Houben, creative director (and founding partner) of the Dutch architectural firm Mecanoo. The building consists of four halls and a huge open-air theatre, and is the world’s largest performing arts centre under one roof. Our orchestra has the honour of being the first Dutch orchestra to play in this hall, which can accommodate 2,000 visitors.
On the programme is Mahler’s Third Symphony. Due to the large line-up which this symphony requires, some extra musicians from the Netherlands have travelled together with the orchestra to make a performance feasible. At the final rehearsal, the orchestra gets ready – together with the women’s and children’s voices of the Kaohshiung Chamber Choir and Century Voice Choir – for the performance in a completely sold-out hall.
Listening tip: the Zondagmiddagconcert, broadcast on June 9 on the Dutch radio channel NPO Radio 4, featured a recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony played by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra at a concert in May this year.
Film: Start of the tour
In this video clip, we speak with hornist Martin van de Merwe. He’s bidding farewell after 45 years and this will be his last tour with our orchestra. Also, tour manager Daniël Rosenquist talks about the preparations for the trip. And, on arrival in Taiwan, cellist Yi-Ting Fang shows us where she grew up.
The tour has started! After a long journey to Taiwan, our musicians have a day’s rest before a succession of rehearsals and concerts begins. Bassoonist Hans Wisse has already toured several times in Asia. For his wife, Marianne Prommel, it’s only the second time that she has toured the continent. “Our children are now old enough to cope on their own at home,’ says Hans. “Marianne used to stay at home for them, but now we can both go on tour together.”
There’s a huge surprise waiting for Marianne when she arrives at the hotel. Her brother, who himself regularly gives percussion lessons in Taiwan, wanted to offer her some encouragement during the tour and has consequently arranged for her hotel room to be decorated with a hefty amount of balloons, and a bunch of flowers.
In their gorgeously bedecked room, Hans and Marianne prepare themselves for the forthcoming rehearsals and concerts. “The bassoon’s double reed reacts to the climate here which, paradoxically, can be either moist or dry. That means that occasionally you have to some work to do before you actually begin to play. You always have to bring the tools of the trade with you on tour,” according to Hans. It has to be right. “We set ourselves high standards,” say Hans and Marianne. “After all, you’re not only performing for an audience, you’re also playing for your colleagues – and for yourself.”
Photos: Flight Amsterdam - Kaohsiung