October 23, 2021 | Michigan Theater
Behind the Music
Music director candidate Perry So leads the orchestra in works by Haydn and Bruckner, the former a brilliant example of the classical style in its twilight and the latter a demonstration of conventional form and harmonic language pushed to its limit. Coined the ‘Miracle’ symphony for popular story involving its premiere and the audience’s narrow escape from a falling chandelier, Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 stands as the first member of the London symphonies (Nos. 93-104) first performed to the public. Bruckner’s monumental 6th symphony rounds out the program with the incredibly progressive harmonic language and ambitious proportions that characterized musical romanticism in the dawn of the avant garde.
HAYDN Symphony No. 95
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6
Perry So, conductor
Perry So, conductor and music director candidate
A Music Director candidate with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Perry So was born in Hong Kong in 1982 and received his early musical training in piano, organ, violin, viola and composition there. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in literature with a focus on the interaction of literature and music in Central Europe in the modernist era, and as a student at Yale he founded an orchestra and led the undergraduate opera company. He received his formal training as a conductor under Gustav Meier at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. In 2008 he received First and Special Prizes at the Fifth International Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St Petersburg, Russia. He has subsequently held posts as Assistant, then Associate Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Conducting Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Artistic Collaborator of the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Spain and is a member of the conducting faculty at the Manhattan School of Music.
A presence in concert halls on five continents, Perry So recently made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony, his European operatic debut at the Royal Danish Opera in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and his North American operatic debut at Yale Opera in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Recent highlights include a tour to Milan with the Nuremberg Symphony and a seven-week tour of South Africa with three orchestras including Verdi’s Requiem in Cape Town, broadcast in July 2020 as the center piece of the South African National Arts Festival. In the coming season he will return to the San Francisco Symphony for his debut on the subscription series.
So has enjoyed a long association with the Royal Danish Theatre and the Royal Danish Orchestra both on the concert stage and in the pit for opera and ballet. He has been a frequent guest at Walt Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and in 2013 toured the Balkan Peninsula at the helm of the Zagreb Philharmonic in the first series of cultural exchanges established after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Other debuts in recent years include appearances with the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, the symphony orchestras of Navarre, Málaga, Tenerife, Nuremberg, Israel, New Zealand, Houston, Detroit, New Jersey and Shanghai; the London, Szezcin, Seoul and China Philharmonics, the Residentie Orkest in the Hague and the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie in Koblenz.
His work in the recording studio encompasses a broad sampling of twentieth-century British, French and Russian music with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Concert Orchestra, and his album of Barber and Korngold’s Violin Concertos with soloist Alexander Gilman and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the Diapason d’Or in January 2012.
His wide-ranging musical interests encompass numerous world premieres on four continents as well as the reintroduction of Renaissance and Baroque repertory into symphonic programs, most notably championing the works of Jean-Philippe Rameau. His work with young musicians has taken him to the Australian Youth Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the Round Top Festival, the Manhattan School of Music, the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts and the Yale School of Music.
Perry, his wife Anna and daughter Caroline divide their time between Boston and Saint Paul, Minnesota, where Anna is professor of History of Science at the University of Minnesota.