Press

Interviews

Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung: Mediator of Cultures

The young conductor Kahchun Wong from Singapore is conquering the world. There is something fairytale-like about his rise. A fairy tale in which the hero works hard on improving himself until he advances to the top. The city-state of Singapore makes Wong an icon.

"He approaches us with great friendliness," says Kosinov, his concertmaster, about Wong. "But he also has a clear vision. With him, we musicians can express our own positions. But he then ensures that we become a unified body of sound and identity."
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Kahchun Wong on celebrating the Nuremberg Symphony’s 75th anniversary during the pandemic

Nordbayern Interview
In an interview with Thomas Heinold, the chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, Kahchun Wong, speaks about the orchestra anniversary, the corona pandemic and the concert hall being closed. “My decision to come to Nuremberg was made because of the wonderful music-making with the orchestra and the knowledge that we can reach new heights together. The way I see it, every moment of making music together is fulfilled for us. And that is crucial. The pandemic has made it difficult for us to get back to our normal music making, but I'm personally looking forward to the day we can play together again - especially given our 75th season.”
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In grim times, music to bring hope and joy

Straits Times Editorial
I first met Kah Chun several years ago when I was invited by an old ST colleague, Ms Nirmala Murugaian, to attend one of his Red Bean concerts. It was held one Saturday morning at the Child at Street 11 centre, a multiracial, secular and non-profit education centre for less fortunate children, which Nirmala had founded in 1994. For her part, Nirmala says that it was Kah Chun's pitch for musical inclusiveness that won her over to the project. "A child asks questions, listens and then comes up with his or her theory of how things work. And then the child tests out these theories... Kah Chun is always asking them questions: Why do you think this is so? What did you do with this part of your artwork? How did you do this? And no question is too small for him. "It's a relationship of absolute respect, trust, play, investigation, hope, inclusion, and a belief that everyone is an equal."
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Kahchun Wong raises money for ChildAid 2020

Business Times Interview
Born in Singapore to a Mandarin-speaking family, Wong had almost no exposure to Bach or Beethoven in his early years. But he took an instant liking to music when he was asked to join the school brass band in Primary One. On July 15, Wong will premiere an 8-minute segment of Beethoven’s Ode To Joy in the virtual charity concert ChildAid 2020. Organised by The Business Times and The Straits Times, ChildAid has been raising funds for underprivileged children for 16 years. The Beethoven segment sees Wong surrounded by digital images of over 1,000 internationational musicians whom he leads in making grand, glorious music.
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Creatively through the crisis

ZDF
The Corona crisis poses a wide variety of challenges for artists around the world. The 33-year-old chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra was born in Singapore: every year Kahchun Wong gives a big Beethoven concert in the Botanical Garden in his homeland, this time he has to digitally stage the great master. How does he do it?
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Singapore conductor Wong Kah Chun awarded Germany's highest tribute

Channel News Asia
Singapore conductor Wong Kah Chun was on Tuesday (Dec 10) conferred Germany’s Order of Merit, the highest tribute for services to the country. Wong, 33, is the youngest Singaporean and also the first artist from Singapore to have received this honour, the German embassy in Singapore said. German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "There is hardly a more beautiful story from the treasure trove of the multi-faceted connections between Singapore and Germany than that of yours, Mr Wong.” Singapore Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu extended her congratulations to Wong and said that the award would also serve as an “inspiration to all pursuing their dreams”.
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Harry Potter from Singapore

Suddeutsche Zeitung
Kahchun Wong, Singapurer mit chinesischen Wurzeln. Einer, der Welten miteinander verknüpft. Asien und die westliche klassische Musik, das ist die Geschichte einer besonderen Liebe. Und Wong verkörpert sie mit jeder seiner Bewegungen. Dennoch war es alles andere als absehbar, dass der einstige Schüler mit dem Kornett später einmal klassische Symphonieorchester dirigieren würde. Ein Lehrer aus der Musikszene in Singapur schreibt per SMS: „Ach ja, Kahchun, wir erlebten ihn noch als Jungen, seht, wie er gewachsen ist, ich bin sehr stolz auf ihn.“
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Music can help hone crucial life skills in young people

Singapore Airlines/Silver Kris Magazine Opinion Piece
My experiences taught me that access to music is a right, not a privilege. I came from an average working-class family, and my first contact with music was by accident. In primary one, my mathematics teacher handed me a consent form recruiting new members for the brass band. I brought this form home for my parents to sign without any idea of what it entailed. Clearly, joining the band ended up being a pivotal point in my life. At first it was the camaraderie and friendships that kept me interested and playing. Being part of the band taught me discipline and teamwork – to practise alone and in a group, and to learn to work together with others who are playing different instruments. “Learning music can also allow one to develop qualities such as respect and patience” These are just some of the cognitive and psychological life skills that can be imparted through exposure to music. And like other non-academic pursuits such as sports, learning music can also allow one to develop qualities such as respect and patience.
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Kahchun Wong’s debut at Klassik Open Air in Nuremberg

BR-Klassik
BR-KLASSIK: Sie übernehmen jetzt die Leitung der Nürnberger Symphoniker, folgen auf Alexander Shelley. Eine Saison lang gab es nur Gastdirigenten und jetzt kommen Sie fest zum Orchester. Wann haben Sie die Nürnberger Symphoniker eigentlich zum ersten Mal selbst gehört? Kahchun Wong: Um ganz ehrlich zu sein: Ich bekam im Oktober 2016 einen Anruf, ob ich für ein Konzert mit den Nürnberger Symphonikern einspringen könnte. Der Dirigent sei krank. Ich hatte da überhaupt keine Erwartungen. Das war eines der ersten Konzerte, die ich dirigiert habe, nachdem ich den Mahler-Wettbewerb gewonnen hatte – ich war also noch ziemlich unerfahren. Deswegen: Für mich ist das ein Traum, wie sich das alles entwickelt hat.
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New Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra

BR-Klassik
"Unsere Aufgabe ist es, das Beste aus den Musikern heraus zu holen. Und zwar nicht von oben herab wie ein Schulmeister, sondern indem wir eine Atmosphäre des gemeinsamen Musizierens aufbauen", sagt Kahchun Wong. Alles Mögliche haben sie damals in der Schulband gespielt, erzählt Kahchun Wong. Einfachere Stücke aus Tschaikowskys "Schwanensee", aber auch Werke zeitgenössischer Komponisten aus Amerika und Europa. Die Lust an Neuer Musik begleitet Kahchun Wong bis heute. In seiner Heimat Singapur hat er das Asian Contemporary Ensemble gegründet, das er nach wie vor leitet. Und die Stücke des zeitgenössischen chinesischen Komponisten Chen Qigang könnte er in Dauerschleife hören. Seinen Durchbruch erlebte Kahchun Wong im Mai 2016, als er den begehrten Gustav-Mahler-Dirigentenwettbewerb in Bamberg gewann. Er dirigierte den Schlusssatz aus Mahlers Dritter Symphonie und überzeugt alle, sowohl technisch als auch mit seiner Spielfreude. Von dieser Symphonie fühlt er sich besonders angesprochen, sie erinnert ihn an ein Wesen aus der chinesischen Mythologie: an Pangku, der die Welt erschaffen hat. "Für mich drückt Mahler in seiner Dritten Symphonie aus, dass es im Leben nicht um eine bestimmte Religion geht oder um einen bestimmten Gott, sondern einzig und allein um die Liebe."
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"We are not that different"

Concerti.de
With their new chief conductor Kahchun Wong, the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra is sure to begin an interesting concert season: composers that hardly anyone in this country knows can be found alongside those that are often played. Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, Takashi Yoshimatsu and Yii Kah Hoe from China, Japan and Malaysia contribute musical elements from the Far East. In the same breath, he emphasizes the Asians' love for European classical music, which - of course - can also be found in the program. There are, for example, Schumann , Beethoven and Haydn . But then there are others too, like Bartók and Prokofiev, US composer Paul Dukas , and rare concert works by opera composer Pietro Mascagni and the Armenian Alexander Arutunian. “It's about finding the best in every culture,” sums up Kahchun Wong.
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Kahchun Wong on his #CODE1159 Moment

Audemars Piguet
One of the most exciting and innovative conductors of his generation, KahChun Wong came into prominence when he won the prestigious Gustav Mahler Competition in 2016, becoming the first Asian to do so. In this feature in partnership with Audemars Piguet's new CODE 11:59 collection, KahChun talks about his "11:59 moment", the moment before a significant event. For him, it is that moment "when the whole orchestra resonates as one" with "a look, a gesture drawing a perfectly-timed response." "The musicians feel it, I feel it. We can see it in each other's eyes. It is an indescribable feeling.
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REVIEWS

“Wong crafted and shaped every motif and phrase in a caring and imaginative way.”

Bachtrack
Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra

“Arresting and impressive.”

Financial Times
New York Philharmonic

“The Singaporean conductor proved to be a first-rate interpreter of Mahler’s Titan. Kahchun Wong entered the composer’s personal universe from the first notes, gradually unveiling the poetic and dramatic dimensions of the symphony, setting up a tension that never weakened. The concert was sold-out.”

La Dépêche
Orchestre Nationale du Capitole de Toulouse

“Wong had a vision, taking the audience on the most magical journey.”

Bachtrack
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

“Wong’s weightless conducting inspires. With graceful fingers and hands, as well as round gestures and a discreet use of the body, he directs the orchestra to its climaxes an encourages the musicians to their peak performance.”

Saarbrücker Zeitung
Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern

“Wong and the Nurenberg Symphony conquered the captivating terrain (Stravinsky’s Petrushka) in an authentic and convincing way, ending in a powerful bravo ovation.”

Nordbayern Zeitung
Nürnberger Symphoniker

“Apprezzatissimo esegeta del sublime componimento, il trentenne Wong non stenta a incidere la lettura di alguni spunti personali, nella scelta dei tempi oppure nella modellazione delle frasi, abbinando alla sicurezza del gesto un respiro ampio e avvincente.”

Circuito Musica
Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi

“Wong inspires all. He is a musical magician, a rare breed of the conductor that understands everything the orchestra needs.”

Suddeütscher Zeitung
Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition

“Wong impressed not only with his technical and musical mastery but his congenial and relaxed ac¡ttitude, knowing exactly where to rehearse intensively in all the right places.”

BR Klassik
Jonathan Nott, Chair of the Jury