2013 年，當西蒙歷圖爵士（Sir Simon Rattle）公佈，將於 5 年後退任柏林愛樂樂團首席指揮時，消息轟動全球各媒體報章，而合適的繼任人選也被廣泛報道。但當 2002 年接任香港小交響樂團音樂總監一職的葉詠詩宣佈，將於 2019／2020 樂季後卸任時，香港社會和媒體都沒有太過重視。看來本地人似乎並未察覺葉詠詩為香港古典樂壇所帶來的貢獻。她不單將香港小交響樂團提升至亞洲廣為人知的樂團，還將其塑造成香港旗艦樂團之一。
我曾表達過我對香港管弦樂團過度依賴非本地音樂家的不滿。而小交響樂團作為香港最「本土」的樂團 —— 有一位本地音樂總監、一位本地總裁、和大比例的本地音樂家 —— 為了延續樂團的傳統，也必須將下一任音樂總監委任給本地音樂家。
陳以琳 —— 未來巨星
陳以琳是一位在香港土生土長的音樂家，也是第一位贏得唐娜泰拉．弗里克指揮大賽（Donatella Flick Conducting Competition）的女性指揮家。她曾是倫敦交響樂團的助理指揮，現在則是安特衛普交響樂團（Antwerp Symphony Orchestra）的首席指揮，和皇家蘇格蘭國家管弦樂團的首席客座指揮。不止如此，她也曾指揮過世界各地頂級交響樂團，包括芝加哥交響樂團、洛杉磯愛樂樂團、和荷蘭皇家音樂廳管弦樂團。在指揮風格上，她與葉詠詩十分相似，不只對樂譜裡的細節一絲不苟，也是製造管弦樂層的專家。
吳懷世 —— 一場豪賭
吳懷世，毫無疑問是當下其中一位最華麗、有活力、和耀眼的亞洲年輕指揮家。他有著西蒙歷圖爵士般的指揮風格、大衛冼文（David Zinman）般的闡釋能力、和杜達美（Gustavo Dudamel）般在舞台上的戲劇性。有他指揮的音樂會，就像一場精彩的舞台劇。最令我印象深刻的是，他能運用雙眼指揮，去塑造出音句和音調。他也曾在著名指揮大賽中獲獎，包括國際史雲蘭諾夫指揮大賽（Svetlanov International Conducting Competition）和蘇提爵士國際指揮大賽（Sir Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition）。現時他擔任韓國首爾愛樂樂團的副指揮和香港馬勒樂團的指揮，並發掘和提拔本地有才華的音樂家。但是，他未曾擔任過專業樂隊的音樂總監。不過從他在馬勒樂團獲得的教育和社區方面的經驗，對專注於教育性音樂會和用古典樂與青年接觸的香港小交響樂來說是正面的。
蘇柏軒 —— 可靠之選
文章中提及的 4 位指揮家，蘇柏軒應是香港觀眾中最廣為人知的一位。他是香港管弦樂團迪華特時代下的助理指揮和副指揮。他為人謙虛、真誠且和藹，廣受全球尊重，曾經指揮頂尖愛樂樂團，包括克利夫蘭、明尼蘇達、和洛杉磯愛樂樂團。他也曾與頂級指揮家合作，包括沙羅倫（Esa-Pekka Salonen）、布隆斯泰特（Herbert Blomstedt）和馬捷爾（Lorin Maazel）。
與另 3 位指揮家相比，蘇伯軒是最不繁忙的一位，因此應能夠將所有專注力和精力投入到香港小交響樂團上。
喬納森．盧 —— 一匹黑馬
大多數人都未曾聽過喬納森．盧，但他是一名非常全面的指揮家。他有豐富的經驗指揮交響樂團、合唱團、和芭蕾舞團。他現為英國北方芭蕾舞團的音樂總監、西安交響樂團的首席客座指揮、和曼徹斯特室內合唱團的音樂總監。此外，他曾與英國皇家芭蕾舞團和荷蘭國家芭蕾舞團合作，並在 BBC 愛樂樂團擔任合唱團指揮。每一樂季，香港小交響樂團都會參與各種各樣的伴奏項目。例如，在本年下旬，他們將會為香港芭蕾舞團的「小飛俠」、「天鵝湖」和「胡桃夾子」伴奏；也將為香港歌劇院伴奏莫扎特的「唐．喬望尼」。不論是台上台下，他的專業知識必定可以提升香港小交響樂團為歌劇和芭蕾舞伴奏的水準，同時維持樂團在音樂廳內的卓越表現。
Hong Kong Sinfonietta’s Next Music Director: The Leading Candidates
Back in 2013, Sir Simon Rattle’s announcement that he would quit the Berlin Philharmonic in five years’ time made headlines in numerous media publications, while the search for his successor was similarly widely reported. However, when it was revealed that Yip Wing-sie, Music Director of Hong Kong Sinfonietta since 2002, would step down from her role after the 2019/2020 season, it hardly made an impression on Hong Kong’s society and media. It seemed that Hong Kongers were unaware of the contributions that Yip had given to our city’s classical music scene. Not only did she elevate Hong Kong Sinfonietta from a largely unknown ensemble to a widely recognised orchestra in Asia, but also transformed it to become one of Hong Kong’s two flagship symphony orchestras.
In a previous article, I have shown my displeasure on how the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra filled its ranks with non-Hong Kong born musicians. As Hong Kong’s most ‘local’ orchestra, with a local musical director, a local CEO and a large majority of local musicians, it is imperative that Hong Kong Sinfonietta appoints a Hong Konger to continue its respectable tradition. The ideal candidates are…
Elim Chan, the Global Star-to-be
Chan is a Hong Kong-born-and-bred musician, and was the first ever female conductor to win the prestigious Donatella Flick Conducting Competition. She was once the Assistant Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and is now the Chief Conductor of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, having also conducted some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Concertgebouw Orchestras. Chan is a very similar conductor to Yip Wing-sie musically, with a meticulous attention to every detail in the scores, and is an expert in producing sophisticated orchestral layering.
The question is, with a burgeoning international reputation already, I wonder if Chan be interested to take the music directorship of Hong Kong Sinfonietta, which is a downgrade to her current appointments.
Wilson Ng, the Big Gamble
Ng is, without a doubt, one of the most flamboyant, energetic and dazzling young Asian conductors of our time. With a Sir Simon Rattle conducting style, a David Zinman interpretative brain and a Gustavo Dudamel powerful presence on stage, Ng is the complete package. His concerts were never just musical events, but also exciting drama and pure theatre. What impressed me most was Ng’s glaze – he could literally conduct with his eyes and shape an orchestra’s phrasing, harmonic support and tone purely by eye contact. Ng was a laureate at various leading conducting competitions, including the Svetlanov International Conducting Competition and the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition. He is currently the Associate Conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and the Conductor of Hong Kong’s Gustav Mahler Orchestra, where he strives to discover and develop local musical talents. Yet, Ng has neither held a music directorship with a professional orchestra nor boasted a track record in artistic planning and advisory. Nevertheless, his experience with the educational and community aspects of the Gustav Mahler Orchestra will be viewed positively by Hong Kong Sinfonietta, which also focuses on educational concerts and engaging the youth with classical music.
Well, sometimes in order to win big, you need to bet big.
Perry So, the Safe Hands
Out of the four musicians discussed in this article, So is likely the most well-known conductor for Hong Kong audiences, having been the Assistant and Associate Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra under the reign of Edo de Waart. A humble, genuine and convivial character, So has firmly established himself as a widely respected conductor around the globe, having conducted various top orchestras, including the Cleveland, Minnesota and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as worked with some of the leading conductors, namely Esa-Pekka Salonen, Herbert Blomstedt and Lorin Maazel.
So, compared to the other three conductors here, has the least busy international schedule and can potentially devote his full attention and efforts to Hong Kong Sinfonietta.
Jonathan Lo, the Dark Horse
Not many locals would have heard of Lo, yet he is regarded as a very versatile conductor, with a wealth of experience working with orchestras, choirs and ballet companies. Lo is currently Music Director of Northern Ballet, Principal Guest Conductor of the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Manchester Chamber Choir, having also worked with the Royal Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet and as the chorus master of the BBC Philharmonic. Hong Kong Sinfonietta has a wide array of accompaniment projects each season; for instance, it will accompany the Hong Kong Ballet in Peter Pan, The Swan Lake and The Nutcracker as well as Opera Hong Kong in Mozart’s Don Giovanni later this year. Lo’s expertise both on stage and in the pit would substantially enhance Hong Kong Sinfonietta’s reputation in operatic and ballet projects, while maintaining its excellent standing in the concert halls.
It would be a treat for the Hong Kongers if any one of these four conductors were to be appointed as successor to Yip Wing-sie at Hong Kong Sinfonietta, though I am keeping my fingers crossed for Elim Chan, the pride of Hong Kong’s classical music scene.