MPO makes an emotional live return after 13 months in the dark

Furusawa leading the MPO during its reopening on April 17, which featured a Strauss programme. Photo: MPO

Japanese conductor Naohisa Furusawa will not forget the moment he walked on stage to join the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra's (MPO) long-awaited live return with the Strauss: A New World show last Saturday at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP).

“The most memorable thing was the applause! I will never forget hearing the audience's applause resounding throughout the hall for the first time in 13 months, ” says Furusawa.

“I felt very happy that MPO's music could heal the hearts of the audience who, based on the reception during the concert, were excited that the orchestra could perform live once again, ” he adds.

The concert by the MPO marked the venue’s first live performance with an audience since it closed its doors last March due to the pandemic and the movement control order (MCO).

The DFP welcomed a masked audience of 257, all spaced out according to the Government's SOPs and health guidelines. The venue’s full capacity is 900 people.

In line with the government’s regulations, the number of musicians on the DFP stage was reduced from 70 to 54 people. All the musicians were seated with a physical distance of 2m apart.

All musicians except for the conductor, woodwinds and brass sections were required to wear masks when performing.

To get the MPO orchestra back on track for the 2021 programme season, Furusawa will return to conduct two shows next month - Finlandia! on May 1, which is a celebration of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius' works, and The Majestic Baroque show on May 22.

Although the DFP remained closed for a year, the MPO kept itself busy by entertaining concert-goers virtually with the "MPO At Home" series.

The digital series of short-videos, which started last April, features the MPO and the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra musicians performing from their homes. Last September, the MPOPlaysOn online series premiered on its MPO TV Youtube channel.

The next live MPO concert is Let’s Tour The World: II on April 24. This family-friendly show, led by MPO’s resident conductor Gerard Salonga, will take the audience on a musical voyage around the world.

Salonga will return to lead the MPO for the Mendelssohn’s Voyages show on May 8.

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