Yannick’s sidekick lands Jaap cover job

Yannick’s sidekick lands Jaap cover job


norman lebrecht

November 30, 2020

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra has appointed Lio Kuokman as Resident Conductor, effective immediately, presumably to cover for music director Jaap Van Zweden who may not be back for a while in the Covid winter.

Kuokman, 39 and a Hong Kong citizen, has been Assistant Conductor to Yannick Nézet-Seguin at the Philadelphia Orchestra and is also programme director of the Macao International Music Festival.



  • El says:

    Great that Hong Kong are choosing its own artists. Lots of great talent and he’s wonderful.
    Hope the rest of the world will start to recognize talents of their own citizens and give them opportunities.

  • Musician says:

    Unquestionably one of the most talented young conductors I have ever encountered. Das ist mein Ernst.

  • V.Lind says:

    What exactly is a Hong Kong citizen?

    • John Borstlap says:

      A Hong Kong citizen is a citizen with one foot in Hong and the other in Kong. Hence the balancing difficulties. But it’s a hub of great talent, drawing people from all over the world.

      • V. Lind says:

        Not funny if you had lived there when I did, in the 80s and the SAR was being set up. The issue of citizenship was a a bitter one long before Theresa May and her “hostile environment” crowd arrived. These days I suppose they are technically Chinese citizens, with all the limitations that implies.

  • fflambeau says:

    Born in Taiwan, student at Juilliard, Curtis and many other fine schools, talented and young. A fine choice.

  • sam says:

    Between the surge in Covid, the crackdown from Beijing, the concentration-camp quarantines, the exodus if not arrest of democratic dissidents, the draconian isolation measures of people flying into the city, it’s unclear what is left of either the HK Phil or its audience, nevermind the feasibility or advisability of working in this city for non-residents.

  • anon says:

    I always wondered, why is there a magnificent hall for the HK Philharmonic, where there are only make-shift glorified tents made out of bamboo scaffolding for Cantonese opera? There are a lot more Hong Kongers listening to Cantonese opera than Bruckner.

    The sight of Hong Kong Chinese dressed up in penguin suits playing Rameau is about as jarring as the ridiculous sight of Hong Kong Chinese jurists dressed up in white powdered horsehair wigs playing out their colonial version of Rumpole of the Bailey-in-the-East.

    Mao was not wrong.

    • Nick2 says:

      Where on this good earth did you hear that the HK Philharmonic had a “magnificent” hall? It’s home in the Concert Hall in the HK Cultural Centre is a total acoustic disaster! That the Naxos engineers were able to make it sound far more than good for the recent Ring cycle is a tribute to their excellence. It has nothing to do with one of the worst concert halls in Asia, a continent brim full of excellent concert venues – but not in Hong Kong.

      As for Cantonese Opera, you clearly are unaware that traditionally it has been itinerant, performed in temporary venues made with the use of bamboo scaffolding – even in Hong Kong. At one time there was a permanent theatre in the city’s North Point area but it died. It is nothing like a symphony orchestra which does require a far better concert hall – like those in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo and many others in Japan.

      • V. Lind says:

        The Cultural Centre is the pits. Life was a whole lot nicer when the Phil and the ballet company, among others, performed at the HKAPA. The Lyric Theatre was a joy. Not a bad seat in the place. Nice size for everything.

        The Cultural Centre was a nasty piece of architecture and a deeply unpleasant place at which to attend an artistic performance. I saw Cantonese Opera at some rental place in Hung Hom that was far more attractive, and went to Cantonese aria concerts in auditoria that may have been high schools but were more engaging.

        • Nick2 says:

          You have your halls slightly mixed up. The excellent HKAPA with its equally excellent Lyric Theatre only opened in 1986. Prior to the awful Cultural Centre, the HKPO had its home in the Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall. Ideal for orchestras up to around 60 musicians but too small for larger ensembles. It is perfect for the excellent HK Sinfonietta concerts.

          With the superb HKPO ensemble built up first by de Waart and later by van Zweden, Hong Kong is in desperate need of a very fine concert hall – not one designed by the whims of a Chief Government Architect who in designing the HK Cultural Centre knew nothing about concert halls and who designed the exterior of the windowless building (windowless – despite being located on one of the world’s great harbour views) to be viewed as a bird from the air. How the civil servants overseeing the design accepted such an idiotic design is one of life’s complete mysteries and a total disgrace.

          • V. Lind says:

            I toured the Cultural Centre before it opened and was appalled that it had no windows — exactly the same response as you. And it was no more appealing to attend things in — somehow dark and depressing. It ought to be torched and a new one built.

            You’re right about my error above — I misrecollected. I saw a lot of ballet (which did use the Lyric) and concerts and other things at all the venues. I must say I loved the HK City Hall Concert Hall (and the shop, where I got marvellous photos of old Hong Kong).

    • John Borstlap says:

      A comment smelling of racism.

      Culture is entirely oblivious of ethnicity.

      • Nick2 says:

        Not at all, John. V. Lind’s views are spot on despite one small error. I realise the Hong Kong government deserves a great deal of credit because for decades it has pumped huge amounts of money into the development of the arts. But it also controls 90% or so of what audiences can see and hear. It funds most of the companies directly or indirectly, owns all the venues and is the master of all the civil servants who man them. Add to that the fact that it runs and makes major losses on several performing companies like the mostly Chinese instrument Chinese Orchestra and is virtually Hong Kong’s only impresario (it effectively froze all others out), you have a situation which might perhaps be the envy of many other countries. This situation was in operation long before the handover to China. It is a relic of colonial times. The real problem is that those actually in charge are often all but clueless.

        There is a lovely true story of the Hong Kong Arts Festival’s intention years ago to mount a production of The Flying Dutchman. A civil servant on the Board who went by the title Chief Manager (Culture) Urban Council piped up, “Mr. Chairman, before the vote will the festival director kindly inform the Board who is this Flying Dutchman and what does he do?” Need I add more?