Gerard Salonga is currently the Resident Conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, a position he has held since January 2019. For two seasons, he served as Assistant Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra from 2016 to 2018 and was Music Director of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra in Manila from 2012 to 2020. In January of 2021, Salonga began his term as the Music Director of the Orchestra Of The Filipino Youth (OFY). He has assisted and covered distinguished conductors such as Jaap van Zweden, Jun Märkl, Hans Graf, Yu Long, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mark Wigglesworth and Leonard Slatkin. He has also conducted the Philippine Philharmonic, Shanghai Opera House Orchestra and Chorus, Kunming Nie-Er Symphony, Evergreen Symphony of Taiwan, South Denmark Philharmonic, Queensland Camerata, Orchestra Victoria, and the Bangkok, Singapore and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
His orchestral arrangements have been performed by orchestras such as the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Singapore Symphony, RTE Concert Orchestra, New York Pops, Guangzhou Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, BBC Symphony and Royal Philharmonic. He has also collaborated as arranger/conductor with artists like Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez, Wang Leehom, Wu Tong, Tengku Irfan, Michael Ball, Blake, Il Divo, Danielle de Niese, Ksenija Sidorova, Shen Yang, Llŷr Williams James Ehnes, Jing Wang, Jan Lisiecki, and The Beach Boys.
In 2018, Salonga conducted the Sydney Symphony and TaikOz in the world premiere of Australian composer Lachlan Skipworth’s Breath Of Thunder (concerto for Taiko and orchestra) at the Sydney Opera House, which earned an APRA AMCOS (Australian art music) nomination for Performance Of The Year.
In 2019, he collaborated with pianist Cecile Licad and the Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester (South Denmark Philharmonic) on a new recording of the works of George Gershwin for piano and orchestra released on the Danacord label. In 2020 and 2021 he served as music producer for the MPO’s recordings of classical and new works for its YouTube channel MPOTV and was also the artistic adviser for MPO’s recent collaboration with the Malaysian Composers’ Collective, premiering new compositions by Malaysian composers. On stage with the MPO at the DFP, Gerard has conducted symphonic programmes, family, and film concerts including Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ratatouille.
As a conductor of musical theatre, he has led the orchestras for the Manila stagings of Carousel (1996), They’re Playing Our Song (2000), Dreamgirls (2003), Baby (2004), West Side Story (2008), Sweeney Todd (2009) and Little Women (2010). In 2019, he conducted Sweeney Todd for Atlantis Theatrical in Manila and in Singapore for Singapore Repertory Theatre. For his work in concerts and theatre, he is a four-time recipient of the Aliw Award for best musical director and twice winner of the Gawad Buhay Philstage Award.
In 2012, Salonga was honoured as one of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM), the Philippines’ highest civilian award to achievers under the age of 40. In 2021, he was named one of the recipients of the SUDI National Music Awards by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
2022 engagements include concerts in Manila, the UK and Singapore, along with continuing his work with the MPO and OFY.
Naohisa Furusawa has been a member of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) double bass section since 2003. Born in Tokyo in 1973, he started to play the violin when he was 4 and joined his junior high school orchestra as a double bass player at 12. His first conducting experience was with this orchestra. Later, he studied double bass with Prof. Nobuo Shiga and conducting with Prof. Kazue Kamiya at Toho Gakuen School of Music (Tokyo Japan), and with Prof. Frank Reinecke at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg.
Furusawa has performed as a double bass player with the NHK Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and other orchestras, under the direction of conductors such as Seiji Ozawa, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Horst Stein, Lorin Maazel, Herbert Blomstedt, Charles Dutoit, Fabio Luisi, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mstislav Rostropovich, Paavo Järvi, Pierre Boulez and Valery Gergiev.
He conducted many youth ensembles including the MPO’s Encounter Training Ensemble and the Miri Tutti Project in East Malaysia as part of the MPO’s Education and Outreach Programme and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony nine times with the MAX Philharmonic Orchestra (Tokyo Japan). In 2015, he conducted Mahler’s Second Symphony with the MAX Philharmonic to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of Second World War.
Furusawa was Resident Conductor of the MPO from 2016 – 2019 and Principal Conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) from 2020 – 2021. He also serves as cover conductor for Mark Wigglesworth, Roberto Abbado, Stéphane Denève, Jun Märkl and Vladimir Ashkenazy.
The MPO, under his baton, kicked-off its 18th season in September 2016 with four sold-out concerts themed A Musical Journey in Anime featuring the works of acclaimed Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP).
He conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in DFP as well in August 2017 for the 60th Anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Japan with a combined choir consisting of choirs from The Dithyrambic Singers (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), The Choir of Gonville and Caius College (Cambridge, the United Kingdom), and The MAX Philharmonic Choir (Tokyo, Japan).
His first conducting tour with the MPO and Malaysian Pianist Tengku Irfan was in Japan at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall for the Asia Orchestra Week (AOW) in October 2017, a festival under Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. He also conducted the “Side by Side” Orchestra with the MPO and Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra (Osaka Japan) as part of AOW at the Iwaki Performing Arts Center.
He made his debut with the MPYO in the International Youth Orchestra Festivals at the Esplanade (Singapore) in December 2017, Hong Kong Cultural Centre (Hong Kong) in December 2018, and Taman Ismail Marzuki (Jakarta) in September 2019.
Furusawa and the MPO toured to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching in June 2018, Johor Bahru and Melaka in September 2018, and Dalian (China) in November 2019.