New York Philharmonic conductor excited to be in Taiwan (update)

Taipei, Feb. 18 (CNA) Alan Gilbert, the music director of the New York Philharmonic, said Tuesday that he is excited to be in Taiwan for two upcoming concerts and hopes to bring New York to the country. The American conductor expressed his "deep happiness" to be back in Taiwan after his first and only visit to the country nearly 30 years ago with a university orchestra. "The chance at that time to meet young Taiwanese musicians and the music-loving public was unforgettable, and it's really been far too long since I've been back," Gilbert said at a press conference in Taipei. He said the orchestra values touring because it gives the musicians the chance to meet new audiences and make connections with the music world around the globe, as well as the opportunity "to bring a bit of New York to the various places we visit." Gilbert said the mix of Russian and American pieces his orchestra will present on Tuesday and Wednesday shows the versatility of the orchestra. "I think the music combines to paint a nice picture of who we are as an artistic organization," he said, adding that he hoped local audiences would enjoy the programs. Violinist Lisa Batiashvili and pianist Yefim Bronfman both said they are looking forward to the upcoming concerts. "I'm extremely excited to play here with this fantastic orchestra," Batiashvili said. The New York Philharmonic will give one concert each on Tuesday and Wednesday at the National Concert Hall in Taipei. Performing in Taiwan for the seventh time, the orchestra will play Shostakovich's "Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99," Bernstein's "Symphonic Dances from West Side Story" and Gershwin's "An American in Paris" on its first night. The following day, it will perform Rouse's "Rapture," Lindberg's "Piano Concerto No. 2" and Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64," according to the Management of New Arts (MNA), which is promoting the tour. Taipei is the last leg of the orchestra's Asia tour, which has already brought it to Seoul and various cities in Japan. Meanwhile, Matthew VanBesien, executive director of the orchestra, said the ensemble is also planning to hold auditions in Taipei on March 3 to select young musicians to join its new orchestral academy in Shanghai. He told CNA that the academy, which will open in September, is an orchestra initiative to help train young musicians throughout Asia, and around 30 to 40 students will be selected as the academy's first class. Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and one of the oldest in the world. It has performed in over 60 countries to date. The orchestra first visited Taiwan in 1984, becoming one of the first world-class orchestras to perform in the country. It has also visited Taiwan in 1989, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2008. (By Christie Chen)