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Taiwan philharmonic concludes European tour in Paris

04/15/2024 07:55 PM
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NSO Music Director Jun Märkl (front row, third left) and orchestra members are pictured with Taiwan's representative in France François Wu (front row, second right) and Deputy Culture Minister Lee Ching-hwi (front row, second left) at the backstage of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris Saturday. Photo courtesy of NSO April 14, 2024
NSO Music Director Jun Märkl (front row, third left) and orchestra members are pictured with Taiwan's representative in France François Wu (front row, second right) and Deputy Culture Minister Lee Ching-hwi (front row, second left) at the backstage of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris Saturday. Photo courtesy of NSO April 14, 2024

Paris, April 14 (CNA) Taiwan's National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) concluded its 11-day tour in Europe on Saturday, with conductor Jun Märkl leading the musicians in a bow to a sellout crowd in Paris.

The performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées was the seventh and final stop of the "From Taiwan" tour by the orchestra, performing under the name "Taiwan Philharmonic."

It gave three performances each in Switzerland and Germany before concluding the tour in Paris.

Taiwan's representative in France François Wu (吳志中), who attended the orchestra's European finale, said it marked another step forward taken by Taiwan on the international stage.

"I was moved to see Taiwan on the rise in the performance of the NSO," Wu said.

Also present at the century-old building on Saturday were Taiwan's deputy representative in France, Philippe Yen (顏嘉良), Taiwan Cultural Center in Paris Director Hu Ching-fang (胡晴舫), and Deputy Culture Minister Lee Ching-hwi (李靜慧).

Märkl thanked the audience for its passion and response and said he was moved to see the two countries connect through music.

In an interview after the orchestra's last performance in Germany, the 65-year-old conductor said he believed music could build emotional connections better than politics.

"In our tour now, we have a lot of people in many different concert halls who now have some kind of positive impression about Taiwan, so that when there's news [saying that] we're coming back, they say 'Ok, we know some Taiwanese people and so we share,'" he said.

After tours to the United States and Japan in 2023, Märkl said the orchestra will return to Japan next year, and that the NSO has invited the NHK Symphony, one of Japan's top orchestras, to Taiwan in August, suggesting that the Taiwan orchestra's efforts to build musical bridges have come to fruition.

Märkl's bond with the NSO dates back to 2021 when he started serving as its artistic advisor in August. He became its director in early 2022 and has been contracted for two terms that will expire in 2028.

As for the progress made by the group, Märkl said the orchestra has expanded its repertoire under the guidance of former director Lü Shao-chia (呂紹嘉), conductor emeritus of the National Symphony Orchestra, including learning "The Ring Cycle" by Richard Wagner.

"My job now is to continue this, and I will focus on French style and on working at the international level," said Märkl, an expert in French impressionism.

"And then later will come another one who will hopefully continue. We want to be one of the top orchestras in Asia."

NSO Music Director Jun Märkl is pictured during an interview with CNA in Paris. CNA photo April 13, 2024
NSO Music Director Jun Märkl is pictured during an interview with CNA in Paris. CNA photo April 13, 2024

That goal, according to Märkl, means joining the NHK Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra to become one of the top five orchestras in Asia.

He is also hoping, however, that more resources will be "invested" in the orchestra, which struggled financially to complete the overseas tour to Europe.

"We'll have a return for this," he said. "This is like tourism, like good food, they're also helping Taiwan. It's not just spending money, but getting something back."

(By Maggie Chao and Chao Yen-hsiang)

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