Music Director & Principal Conductor
Stephen Tong is a man of many gifts. Fatherless at the age of 3, he was born with extraordinary sensitivity to all forms of including music, painting, architecture, and sculpture. Since childhood, he quietly observed, meditated, and learnt these arts thoroughly. With endless interests and unceasing struggles, he challenges his limit to master his aspirations. Started at a young age of 16, Stephen has shown his talent in composing music. When Stephen was only 17 years old, he started to conduct works of oratorios and sacred music.
In 1985, Stephen led a 7-city concert rallies for the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel, well attended by 27,000 people. He then founded Jakarta Oratorio Society in 1986, which regularly performs concerts in Jakarta. Occasionally Stephen would lead the choir in their tour to Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
In December 2008, Stephen took Jakarta by storm when 9,000 people attended the 2-performances of Handel's complete Messiah choruses. Over 200 performers of Jakarta Oratorio Society and orchestra performed under his baton. This marked the largest audience in the history of classical music performance in Indonesia.
Aula Simfonia Jakarta is another exhibit of Stephen's architectural achievement, with Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra as the newly formed and appointed orchestra-in-residence and Jakarta Oratorio Society as the choir-in-residence, Stephen inaugurated all these in October 2009 with a series of concerts to celebrate. Alongside with Jahja Ling, world-renowned Indonesian born conductor, Stephen conducted the works of Bach, Beethoven, Handel, and Haydn. Entering its 10th season, Aula Simfonia Jakarta has hosted over 200 performances of classical concerts.
Stephen has frequently conduct symphonies of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven (all 9 symphonies), Brahms, and Dvorak; concertos for piano, cello, violin; overtures, incidental music, and sacred oratorios such as Haydn Creation, Mendelssohn Lobgesang, Mendelssohn Elijah, and Handel Messiah.
Stephen is the Artistic Director of Aula Simfonia Jakarta, Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra, and Jakarta Oratorio Society.
International Artistic Consultant
Jahja Ling's distinguished career as an internationally renowned conductor has earned him an exceptional reputation for musical integrity, intensity, and expressivity. Mr. Ling is the first and only conductor of Chinese descent who has conducted all of the major orchestras in the North America including Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Louis, and most of prominent orchestras in Asia and Europe.
Mr. Ling holds one of the longest continuous relationship with one of the world greatest orchestras, The Cleveland Orchestra. He first served as Associate Conductor in 1984-85 season, and then as Resident Conductor for 17 years from 1985 to 2002 and as Blossom Festival Director for 6 seasons (2000-2005). Since then he has continued to appear as guest conductor of the Orchestra in every season for the last 25 years. This season he is returning to both Severance Hall and Blossom Festival to celebrate his 25th anniversary with that esteemed ensemble. In addition, he has conducted the Orchestra in over 450 concerts and 600 works in all types of concerts including tours and many world premiere performances.
Mr. Ling made his European debut with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1988 to great acclaim. His other engagements abroad have taken him to the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne, the China Philharmonic in Beijing, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, the Guangzhou Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Malaysia Philharmonic, the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig, the Netherlands radio Philharmonic, the NDR Radio-Philharmonie in Hannover, the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, the Orchestre Nationale du Capitole de Toulouse, The Philharmonia Taiwan, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Belin, the Shanghai Symphony, the Singapore Symphony, the Sydney Symphony, the Stockholm Philharmonic, and Tokyo's Yomiuri Nippon Symphony.
Mr. Ling is acclaimed not only for his interpretation of the standard repertoire, but also for the breadth of contemporary music included in his programs. Among the world premieres he has conducted are works by William Bolcom, Paul Chihara, Daniel Kellogg, George Perle, Bright Sheng, Alvin Singleton, Augusta Read Thomas, Mark Anthony Turnage, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.