Netherlands Embassy and Consulates, China

Simon Murphy

New Dutch Academy

'I am energised and inspired by the immense positive energy in China at the moment and, as a conductor and programmer and ensemble builder, would like to contribute my skills, knowledge and specialities to cultural growth there.'

Can you give a brief introduction to the New Dutch Academy?

The Hague's Baroque orchestra, The New Dutch Academy (NDA), was founded in 2002. Comprising leading international younger generation early music specialists, the award winning orchestra has earned a reputation for its fresh, innovative and engaging performance style and programming offering audiences new perspectives on music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and their lesser known contemporaries. The orchestra is a champion of Dutch repertoire and is responsible for putting the Netherlands' highly cosmopolitan, 18th century symphonic school back on the map.

How long are you with the New Dutch Academy and have you noticed change of the target audience?

As founding music director, I have been there since the beginning. We have always sought to engage both connoisseurs as well as newer, younger audiences. Our programming, with exciting, inspiring concepts including Black Magic, The Birth of the Symphony and It's About Time aim to offer entry points and enrichment for both types of audiences.

How did your career path progress?

I came to the Netherlands to study and to work with the pioneers of the Dutch early music movement. That was very inspiring, but I also saw a great deal of talent in the younger generation, hence establishing the NDA as a platform to grow and further this movement into the future.

What does your day-to-day work consist of?

Very varied. Research, study, personal practice, rehearsals, travelling. Also a lot of discussions and meetings with partners including festivals and concert organisations as well as musician colleagues such as the soloists which with I regularly work. Fund-raising, profiling, and basic organisation is also a big part of it, as well as strategic planning for the future paths of the orchestra and my other activities as guest conductor.

Do you travel a lot for performances and which city/country was most memorable?

Yes. It is an honour and a great inspiration to work with many nationalities, and to visit cities and meet and work with fabulous energised musicians. Enjoying local flavours and traditions is wonderful. Each trip is memorable and meaningful in its own way. One stand out recent memory was working with the students of the Shenzhen Arts High School last year. I conducted their orchestra in a special project together and was blown away by how talented, joyous and nice the students were. Other highlights include playing at the major festivals in Europe, with extra buzz of live radio broadcasts!, and for the Dutch Queen in the Palazzo Quirinale in Rome a few years ago.

What do you hope to achieve during your visit to Hong Kong?

Firstly sharing wonderful music and wonderful musicians with Hong Kong audiences! Secondly the trip is very important to us to establish long term relationships in the area. I would very much like to contribute structurally to the exciting cultural growth in Hong Kong and in southern China. The tour is a door opener and a fabulous opportunity to meet and develop contacts and relationships in order to achieve this.

How about China? Do you hope to develop a bilateral relationship between the Netherlands and China? What are you most looking forward to on this trip?

Absolutely. I am energised and inspired by the immense positive energy in China at the moment and, as a conductor and programmer and 'ensemble builder', would like to contribute my skills, knowledge and specialities to cultural growth there. In particular, I would like to develop longer term relationships with two or three of the symphony orchestras there, building and refining, with the immense talent and together with the enormous interest that is present there for classical music. We performed at the official celebrations of the 40 year anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the Netherlands in Beijing a year and a half ago This trip aims to strengthen those ties and open up new channels for co-operation.