Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra

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Malaysian Philharmonic
Logo of MPO.png
Native nameOrkestra Filharmonik Malaysia
LocationKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Concert hallPetronas Philharmonic Hall
WebsiteMPO official website

The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO; Malay: Orkestra Filharmonik Malaysia), founded in 1997, is the resident orchestra of the Petronas Philharmonic Hall (Dewan Filharmonik Petronas) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Its orchestra members are made up of musicians from over 20 countries.

Although the orchestra's mission is dedicated mainly to the performance of classical music, its versatile repertoire includes music from all genres, including pop, jazz, folk music and rock.[1]

The patron of the MPO is Tun Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, wife of the current Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad, who was also prime minister when the orchestra was founded in 1997. The orchestra is funded primarily through Petronas, a Malaysian oil and gas company.


The MPO made its debut concert on 17 August 1998 under the direction of its first music director and founder, Kees Bakels. In July 2003, Bakels announced that he would be stepping down due to health reasons. In September 2003, the MPO appointed James Judd to succeed Bakels starting from the 2004/2005 season. However, on 14 June 2004, the MPO via a press announcement stated that “all contractual relationships between MPO and Mr. Judd have ceased with effect from 7 April 2004”. The press announcement did not indicate any reason behind the termination of the contract. Due to the termination, Bakels agreed to continue to give more time for the MPO to find his replacement. Bakels held the position until the end of the 2004/2005 season and later, was honored with a conductor laureate title.[2][3]

In November 2004, Matthias Bamert was named the new MPO's principal conductor starting from August 2005.[4] Bamert served in that position until the end of 2007/2008 season.

Claus Peter Flor succeeded Bamert as the MPO's music director starting from August 2008, with an initial contract of 3 years. The contract was renewed, and Peter Flor continued as music director until the end of the 2013/2014 season.[5]

Fabio Mechetti was then appointed as MPO principal conductor.[6] He served in that role from the beginning of the 2014/2015 season through October 2015, from which time the MPO has not named another music director or principal conductor.

Noted guest performers[edit]

Since its inauguration in 1998, the orchestra has performed with many internationally acclaimed conductors, jazz and classical musicians, including Lorin Maazel, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jiří Bělohlávek, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Sir Neville Marriner, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yehudi Menuhin, Vadim Repin, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Chris Botti, José Carreras, Andrea Bocelli, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Sumi Jo.[7][1]


To date, the MPO has made 17 recordings under 3 labels.[8][9]

Album title
Catalog #
Jan 2001 Jean Sibelius, Aram Khachaturian:
Violin Concertos
Kees Bakels,
Aaron Rosand
Vox Classics,
Cat #: 7904
Feb 2002 Alexander Glazunov:
Violin Concerto, Meditation, Etc
Kees Bakels,
Aaron Rosand
Vox Classics,
Cat #: 7907
Aug 2002 Antonín Dvořák:
Music for cello and orchestra
Kees Bakels,
Torleif Thedéen
Cat #: BIS-1276 CD
Jan 2003 Giuseppe Martucci:
Symphony No. 1 Op. 75 & Symphony No. 2 Op. 81
Kees Bakels BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1255 CD
Aug 2003 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov:
Scheherazade Op. 35
Kees Bakels BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1377 CD
Sep 2004 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov:
Capriccio Espagnol Op. 34
Kees Bakels,
Noriko Ogawa
Cat #: BIS-1387 CD
Apr 2005 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov:
Symphony No. 1 & Symphony No. 3 Op. 32
Kees Bakels BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1477 CD
Feb 2006 Édouard Lalo:
Orchestral Works
Kees Bakels,
Torleif Thedéen
Cat #: BIS-1296 CD
Apr 2006 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov:
The Snow Maiden
Kees Bakels BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1577 CD
Jul 2007 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov:
Orchestral Works
Kees Bakels,
Noriko Ogawa
Cat #: BIS-1667 CD
Jun 2009 Josef Suk:
Asrael Symphony
Claus Peter Flor BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1776 SACD
Dec 2010 Bedrich Smetana:
Má vlast
Claus Peter Flor BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1805 SACD
Aug 2011 Vasily Kalinnikov:
The Two Symphonies
Kees Bakels BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1155 CD
Mar 2012 Antonín Dvořák:
Symphony No.7
Claus Peter Flor BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1896 SACD
Jul 2012 Antonín Dvořák:
Symphony No.8
Claus Peter Flor BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1976 SACD
Oct 2012 Antonín Dvořák:
Symphony No.9
Claus Peter Flor BIS,
Cat #: BIS-1856 SACD
Sep 2017 Carl Davis:
Aladdin: The ballet
Carl Davis Carl Davis Collection,
Cat #: 29


During Peter Flor's tenure as music director, he oversaw the controversial "sacking" of nine musicians. The case led to a call from the International Federation of Musicians to boycott auditions for the orchestra.[10]. These musicians were on fixed-term contracts which expired on 15 August 2012. On 15 February 2012, the MPO sent notices to the nine musicians to officially notify that their contracts will not be renewed. Seven out of the nine musicians who received the non-renewal notices filed a legal suit against the MPO at the Malaysian Industrial Court, challenging their former employer’s decision not to extend their contracts. The musicians are Toko Inomoto (violist), Brian C. Larson (violinist), Paul Andrew Philbert (timpanist), Darcey Layne Timmerman (percussionist), Kevin Hugh Thompson (trombonist), Markus Gundermann (violinist) and Liu Jian (violinist).[11]

In 2015, Malaysian Industrial Court threw out their dismissal suit, citing that the musicians’ fixed term contracts had naturally expired, and therefore, the MPO had not even needed to dismiss them. The court opined that the case is not considered 'sacking' or 'dismissal' but merely not extending the expired contract, which is common in many industries.[12][13]

In a separate case, in May 2014, the Malaysian Industrial Court had ordered the MPO to pay a fine of US$147,000 for the dismissal of its former General Manager, Kim Sargeant in 2006.[14]

Resident Conductors & Concertmasters[edit]

Dato’ Seri Ooi Chean See was the founding Resident Conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra from 1998 until 2006. The position remained vacant until Ciarán McAuley was appointed to the position from 2014 to 2016. Naohisa Furusawa, a member of the MPO double bass section since January 2003, was named Resident Conductor in 2016.[15] Gerard Salonga was appointed as an additional Resident Conductor in 2018.

Markus Gundermann (current principal second violin of the Dresden Philharmonic) was the founding MPO concertmaster from 1998 until 2012, when his contract was not renewed by then-Music Director Claus Peter Flor. Anna Reszniak is the second and last violinist to hold the position of MPO concertmaster. Appointed by Flor before his contract was not renewed in 2014, Reszniak left the MPO after just two seasons to join the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra in the same position. Following a successful audition, Marié Rossano was offered the concertmaster position in 2016; she declined and accepted a New York Philharmonic tutti second violin position instead. From the 2014/2015 season, MPO assistant concertmaster Peter Daniš has been serving as acting concertmaster.[16][17]

Music Directors / Principal Conductors[edit]

Resident Conductors[edit]

  • Ooi Chean See (1998-2006)
  • Ciarán McAuley (2014–2016)
  • Naohisa Furusawa (2016–present)
  • Gerard Salonga (2018–present)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b ""MPO – About us"". MPO site. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  2. ^ Michael Markowitz (25 September 2003). "James Judd Named Malaysian Philharmonic's Music Director". (overall site now defunct). Archived from the original on 17 May 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
  3. ^ Matthew Westphal (2 August 2004). "James Judd's Contract with Malaysian Philharmonic Terminated". (overall site now defunct). Archived from the original on 20 October 2006. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
  4. ^ “Appointment of Matthias Bamert". Playbill site. Retrieved 3 August 2018
  5. ^ “Peter Flor profile". IMG Artists site. Retrieved 3 August 2018
  6. ^ “Appointment of Fabio Mechetti". MPO Season Brochure 2014/2015. Retrieved 3 August 2018
  7. ^ “The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra". site. Retrieved 2 August 2018
  8. ^ “Malaysian Philharmonic recordings with BIS". BIS website. Retrieved 2 July 2018
  9. ^ “Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra recordings". site. Retrieved 2 July 2018
  10. ^ “Boycott Malaysian Philharmonic audition". Retrieved 3 August 2018
  11. ^ “Criticisms on MPO, baseless" The site. Retrieved 3 August 2018
  12. ^ “Seven expatriate musicians lose unfair dismissal suit" The StarOnline site. Retrieved 3 August 2018
  13. ^ "Court: No reason needed to end expat musicians' contract" The StarOnline. Retrieved 3 August 2018
  14. ^ “Kim Sargeant vs MPO verdict". Archived of Malaysian law site. Retrieved 3 August 2018
  15. ^ “MPO resident conductor". MPO site. Retrieved 2 August 2018
  16. ^ “List of Musicians". MPO site. Retrieved 2 August 2018
  17. ^ “Anna Reszniak profile". Anna Reszniak website. Retrieved 2 August 2018

External links[edit]