MANILA -- Gerard Salonga has undoubtedly charted his distinguished career as a musical director and noted orchestral conductor. He has travelled far and wide wielding the baton for different orchestras all around the world.
Recently, Salonga was nominated for conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO), a finalist in the Art Music Awards to be handed out by the 2019 Australasian Performing Right Association Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS).
Salonga did the world premiere of a new Australian piece, “Concerto for Taiko and Symphony Orchestra” with the SSO.
Salonga shares the honor with Sydney-based performing ensemble Taikoz in the “Performance of the Year” category for the latter’s world premiere performance of Lachlan Skipworth’s “Breath of Thunder” concerto for taiko, shakuhachi and orchestra.
Performed across three consecutive nights with two sellouts at the Concert Hall Sydney Opera House in February 2018, the work featured Taikoz, Riley Lee, Kaoru Watanabe and the SSO, conducted by Salonga.
SSO artistic director Ian Cleworth is excited and at the same time honored to have been shortlisted for the award. “There are some wonderful artists and projects acknowledged by the awards and it is good to see such strong female and younger artist representation,” Cleworth said.
“It is also great that projects, artists and companies without the support of federal funding are still managing to be relevant and acknowledged.”
The other nominees in the category are Ali McGregor, Antoinette Halloran, Dimity Shepherd and the Victorian Opera Chamber Orchestra, Phoebe Briggs (as musical director) and Sarah Giles (director) for “Lorelei”; Ray Chen and Julien Quentin for “Violin Sonata No. 1: Dark Matter”; and Speak Percussion and Jessica Aszodi for “Atlas of the Sky.”
Salonga has undoubtedly made a name for himself, not just behind the shadow of his elder sister, Broadway star and international actress, Lea.
In 2011, Salonga received the prestigious Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award, given to Filipino achievers under the age of 40.
Salonga is presently shuttling between Kuala Lumpur and Manila, as he took on a new job as resident conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Previously, he worked as assistant conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016 and still currently wields the baton for the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.
From 2016 to 2018, Salonga worked as assistant conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, with Maestro Jaap van Zweden as music director. He also conducted the Kunming Nie-Er Symphony Orchestra in China.
This August, Salonga will conduct the South Denmark Philharmonic Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra in November.
Salonga’s wife, DJ Francisco, is also a seasoned musician who plays the violin for the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. They have two kids – Antonio, 11 and Carmen, 8.
In October, Salonga will conduct the orchestra for Atlantis Theatrical’s staging of “Sweeney Todd,” to culminate the company’s 20th anniversary presentation. He will also conduct the same production for Singapore Repertory Theater in November and December.