Why I quit, by walkout conductor

Why I quit, by walkout conductor


norman lebrecht

September 08, 2014

Han-na Chang, who left her post today as music director of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra with immediate effect, has issued the following statement:

han na chang qatar


Due to persistent administrative difficulties and irreconcilable artistic differences with the management of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, I have given notice of my resignation as Music Director, effective today, 8 September.

Because of unexpected visa complications and on the advice of the Italian Embassy in London, to my regret I am legally unable to perform with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in Rome on Tuesday 9 September and I have withdrawn from all subsequent performances with the QPO.

It is a very sad day for me. Just over a year ago I was honoured to take up this position. At that time I made clear my belief that the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra could become an international ensemble of excellence and I have had the privilege of seeing that belief vindicated through the skill, hard work and commitment of this wonderful group of players, culminating in the orchestra’s debut at the Proms yesterday.

I send my deepest thanks to everyone involved for what we have achieved together and I wish the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra all the very best for its future.

Han-Na Chang


  • Simon S. says:

    I can’t help thinking of artists from pre-1989 Eastern Europe requesting asylum when on tour through Western countries. It might indeed be the best choice not to return to Qatar.

  • Simon S. says:

    I can’t help thinking of artists from Eastern Europe pre-1989 using tours to Western or neutral countries to request asylum. It might indeed have been the best decision not to return to Qatar.

  • erich says:

    If one examines the previous track record of the chief executive of the orchestra, this does not surprise me in the least, give his deeply suspect activities with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and his subsequent precipitate departure from there. Miss Chang need not worry – her talents will very soon be recognised and rewarded elsewhere.

  • Peter says:

    Dmitrij Kitajenko already announced as replacement for concert in Rome tomorrow.

  • karl says:

    Good thing she quit outside of Qatar, because Qatar is notorious for its ways of dealing with foreign workers within the borders of Qatar: one must surrender one’s passport to one’s employer and can only leave the country with an exit visa approved by the employer. Soccer stars who have had employment disputes with their team owners have been kept in Qatar for years unable to leave, basically held hostage until they resolve their conflicts in favor of their employers. Imagine if American orchestras had that power over its musicians!

  • Medusa says:

    Omg!! It was all planned by the artist and her management!! It’s unethical for a conductor to walk out especially on a tour!!! Unless of course u have lost the fight!!! So no reason to drag past stuff into this !!! Get facts right before!

    • erich says:

      This is errant nonsense. Quite apart from the breakdown of relations with the orchestral director, it would anyway have been illegal for her to conduct in Italy – as indeed it still is for a number of orchestral musicians who also have no working permits. It will be interesting to see if the Italian authorities turn a blind eye to this, now that she has flagged the problem up. The orchestral Management failed to organise the appropriate papers in time.

      • Medusa says:

        Sorry to hear that information does not travel as fast in some countries. Working permits were all cleared….but it’s always easier to trust secondary sources!!! For whatever reason! Looking for a cheap reason to get out of a mess that has been stewing for a while?

        • sdReader says:

          Well, Han-Na Chang’s whole statement is opaque. It must have been written by her publicist and checked by her manager and a lawyer.

          Too bad. It would have been helpful to others — and fascinating — to know what REALLY happened to her as a Korean cellist working as a woman conductor of a 7-year-old orchestra founded by a woman in a Muslim country and now touring with the ensemble.

    • Ellingtonia says:

      So you know for a FACT that is was all planned by the artist and her management? Do share with us whence this information comes as I am sure we would all like to hear it and what the source was…………or do you have a particular gripe with this conductor?

      • Medusa says:

        This blog is in no way a platform for cheap gripes. Fact is that this was all planned ahead and as I mentioned earlier, unethical working attitude is a mild way of highlighting this!!!
        Happy orchestra faces emphasise the end of a torture!

        • Ellingtonia says:

          You keep using the word “fact” but then fail to provide any, are you by any chance a member of the Quatar Orchestra management committee?

          • medusa says:

            truley not a member of either the committee nor the QPO. I just know things! completely different source. ok. here is a fact: if I am a music direcor (not just a guest conductor) of an orchestra (who I use as a trial for other engagements) , would you not do everything to promote a major concert and subsequently yourself? is not a radio interview with one of the major radio stations in Europe a good place for that? if I cancel that days in advance would you not say this is very strange and leads people to think that you were never planning on doing this concert in the first place? (taking all the differences of opinions with the management into consideration!)
            to quote a comment made earlier here somewhere….”are the resent and sudden moral conflicts of Han Na Chang in respect of the upcoming and apparently ‘illegal’ concert in Rome paired with her contract not beeing extended? “

          • Ellingtonia says:

            Here is a fact you say then go on to “speculate” what may have happened, those are the strangest “facts” I have ever come across!

          • Ellingtonia says:

            It would appear that as you suggest there is considerable fraction between conductor and orchestra that is does not prevent them from producing excellent music, hence the 4 star revue for the proms programme http://bachtrack.com/review-prom-67-qatar-chang-matsuev-september-2014
            One would have thought that if the orchestra detested the conductor so much they would do what many orchestras do to “disliked” conductors and subtly sabotage the concert.

  • dubiti says:

    nice try….and how Erichs comment shows, probably successful!

  • jo says:

    are the resent and sudden moral conflicts of Han Na Chang in respect of the upcoming and apparently ‘illegal’ concert in Rome paired with her contract not beeing extended?

  • Martin says:

    As noone yes mentioned I am going to play the bad guy and do it: Funny, that she exactly stuck with the orchestra just long enough to conduct at the Proms.

  • Erich says:

    Nothing funny about it. London presented no legal restrictions to performing. Italy did. And what she succeeded in London in doing was – despite whatever was going on behind the scenes – to demonstrate that she and the orchestra were able to make a firstclass musical case for themselves. There was absolutely no sign of any conflict. It’s an orchestral management problem, not a musical one.

    • jo says:

      the reason why the orchestra did not “sabotage” the concert in UK reflects the highly professional working attitude of the orchestra and the respect towards their management. but looking back over the past year Miss Changs conducting manners have rapidly changed and became harder and more aggressive. Dresden reviews, unfortunately, were spot on!

      • norman lebrecht says:

        are you one of the musicians in the Qatar Phil?

        • jo says:

          No I am not but I am quite well informed and have been following the development of the Qatar Phil from the ealry stages.
          the orchestra has, no doubt, improved immensly under Han Na Chang but has, unfortunately, not developed further. quite the oposite. the sound lost warmth but gained aggresivity. the concert in rome, with a repeated program from the Proms, was of a different dimension.

      • Young says:

        You mean a good review is due to the musicians, and a bad review to the conductor?

  • Mark Stratford says:

    She has a great career ahead of her. The Tchaicovsky #5 at the proms was a marvel.

    • Ellingtonia says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with your comment about the performance of the Tch 5 and it was interesting that when she came back to take her bow before the audience many orchestra members were expressing approval in the traditional way. So “Jo” would appear to be not as wellk informed as he professes!

  • Gumby says:

    I’m guessing this is a personal matter. Ms. Chang probably have decided for the right time to ‘escape’ from ‘someone’ with a high ranking emir or prince. Just my crazy thoughts though!