The Penang Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) opens its 2019 calendar with an ambitious programme of Romantic and Classical pieces by Brahms and Haydn. The concert, on March 3rd, will begin with Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, a short but boisterous and exuberant work he composed in 1880 as a tribute to the University of Breslau, which was about to award him an honorary doctorate.


This will be followed by Haydn’s London Symphony, the last of twelve symphonies the composer wrote while living in London, and which premiered in 1795. It was acknowledged at the time as his best ever work, and remains today his most widely recognised symphony.

After a short interval, the orchestra will play Brahms’ Double Concerto, the composer’s last major orchestra work, composed in 188. It is relatively rarely performed because of its need for two brilliant and equally matched soloists, on cello and violin, who can achieve Brahms’ vision for a “super” stringed instrument that plays seamlessly from the top of the violin’s range to the very lowest note of the cello.

The soloists for this PPO performance are a pair of brothers from Singapore, James and Andrew Ng. Andrew, a former concertmaster of the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, graduated from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore and is now finishing his Masters Degree at the Sibelius Academy. he plays an 1865 Charles Gaillard violin. His brother James, former principal cello of the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and a graduate of the same Conservatory, is one of the founding members of Singapore’s premier cello quartet, Bossa Celli.

The PPO, one of several amateur orchestras in Penang, was founded in 2008, with the aim of offering music students the opportunity to perform a challenging classical repertoire. It plays three or four major concerts a year. Weekly rehearsals are led by resident conductor Benjamin Ng Choong Yen, with guest conductors frequently brought in to lead final rehearsals and the concert itself. For this concert the conductor is Professor Chan Tze Law, Music Director of Singapore’s Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, and Vice-Dean of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. Professor Chan has conducted at major music festivals in the UK and has appeared with major orchestras throughout Asia.

The venue for the concert is Dewan Sri Penang, and it begins at 3pm on Sunday March 3rd. Tickets cost RM 60 (RM 30 for students) and are available from Bentley Music in Gurney Paragon, or directly from the PPO (call/whatsapp 016 473 5520 or email