Yes, I know that this has been announced already in the media, but I can’t help myself because I’m a very proud big sister, and our whole family is excited.
Gerard Salonga is now officially one of two assistant conductors of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
He will be working under maestro Jaap van Zweden, who is also the incoming musical director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
My mother, husband and sister-in-law plus many close friends have been sitting on this news for the many weeks waiting for the go-ahead to spread this bit of good news to as many people as we possibly can.
So here we are! Needless to say, we are ecstatic. Over the moon with delight and pride.
Gerard and his coassistant, Vivian Ip from Hong Kong, were selected from a field of 170 applicants from around the world.
The applicants first sent video auditions, from which the field was narrowed down to 30, and even further down to four. The short-listed candidates were then asked to prepare to conduct two pieces: Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5 and Brahms’ Symphony no. 1.
Because Gerard had already worked with the Hong Kong Philharmonic on quite a few occasions, conducting many visiting vocalists for their concerts (mine included), as well as for a couple of the orchestra fundraisers, he was on very friendly ground.
However, this is one of the best orchestras in the world, and they weren’t going to be easy on him.
Gerard had to prove himself, especially since maestro Van Zweden himself would be the one conducting the audition. He stood right where he could see Gerard play, and didn’t sit in the house.
From what I was told, it wasn’t just Gerard’s talent that won him the position, but also his humility and that thing called “teachability.”
The maestro taught him how to get one section in sync with the rest of the orchestra. (Gerard showed me what it was, and it was something that required far more physical coordination than most people possess.) Gerard was able to employ it right away. According to him, the maestro walked away pleased.
I was one of the first ones to whom he revealed the news, and slowly he started sharing the good news with close friends, musicians and people who have seen him grow in this musical world.
Needless to say, to all of these amazing colleagues, teachers, patrons and supporters, we are extremely thankful for your influence and guidance.
The orchestra members whom he’s worked with shoulder to shoulder. Senior players in bands who give valuable advice to his always open and listening ear.
Teachers who have allowed him into their classrooms to prepare for music school in Boston. He couldn’t have done any of this without you.
“When can we start sharing this news?” we asked him, very antsy and wanting to share this news publicly.
“We have to wait for HK Phil to release the news first,” he said. So we remained patient.
Once they did, off to the races we all went! It wasn’t easy holding on to this (we have known since mid-June), so it’s such a relief to finally be able to tell the world.
Congratulations to my little brother! I am incredibly proud to be your big sister. I cannot wait to get to Hong Kong at the end of this month to concertize with the Hong Kong Philharmonic with you at the podium, this time in your official capacity as assistant conductor.
Oh goodness, I think I’m going to cry. For sure, mom is going to.
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