First lady heads to northern Europe to support Taipei orchestra

Taipei, July 13 (CNA) First lady Chow Mei-ching departed for Estonia on Sunday as the honorary leader of the Taipei Sinfonietta and Philharmonic Orchestra (TSPO), ahead of the orchestra's tour of the Baltic states and Finland. The members of the orchestra are scheduled to depart for Estonia early Monday. The TSPO, also known as the Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra, is set to perform in Estonia July 15 and in Latvia and Finland July 16-18. The repertoire will cover classical and contemporary music, including Mozart's piano concertos and pieces by musicians from Taiwan and northern Europe, according to the orchestra. It is the eighth time that the orchestra has been invited to perform in Europe and the first time it will be led there by the first lady. Founded in 1985, the TSPO developed under the baton of late American conductor Henry Mazer, who was its music director for 17 years until his death in 2002. Mazer contributed greatly to the refinement of classical music performances in Taiwan and led local musicians to gain recognition overseas. Since 1993, the orchestra has toured many European countries, including Finland, Estonia, Russia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and France. (By Sabine Cheng and Christie Chen)