The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra has announced that its new music director for 2013 will be 30-year-old Han-Na Chang from South Korea.
Appointing the young conductor – also QPO’s first female head – is a dynamic move for the orchestra, which has just celebrated its fourth birthday.
The QPO is a young institution in another sense, too – 30 was the average age of its 101 musicians when it was first formed in 2007.
As the QPO’s first female conductor, Chang joins the ranks of an exclusive group of women who currently lead world-class orchestras.
Chang, who began her career as a cellist before moving front of stage fairly recently, conducted the orchestra for two weeks this year and will officially assume the director role in September.
She believes the international nature of the QPO is its strength:
“The Qatar Philharmonic is not only an orchestra for Qatar. With players from 30 different countries, It’s an orchestra of the world and for the world. We’re fortunate that Qatar is investing in culture. With our unique combination of personal background diversity and passionate unity in music, it will become one of the most relevant orchestras in the world. This is my vision.”
The first woman to conduct a symphony orchestra was American Mary Davenport Engberg in the early 20th century, but female music directors are still a fairly rare sight on the world stage, with a handful holding senior posts.
Other notable female conductors include Briton Julia Jones, who is principal conductor of the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa; American Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and Estonian Anu Tali.
The QPO is one of only two full professional orchestras left in the Gulf – the other being the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra.
Chang will guest conduct for the QPO in June 2013 and takes up her post as music director in September.
Credit: Photo courtesy of the Qatar Philharmonic