Gerard Salonga is currently 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 where he was appointed by Maestro Jaap van Zweden, having been selected from a field of over 170 international applicants. He also served as Music Director of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra in Manila from 2012 to 2020. In January of 2021, Gerard 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, and has conducted the Philippine Philharmonic, Shanghai Opera House Orchestra and Chorus, Kunming Nie-Er Symphony, Evergreen Symphony of Taiwan, Thailand Philharmonic, Bangkok Symphony, Singapore Symphony, South Denmark Philharmonic, Queensland Camerata, Orchestra Victoria, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Gerard has also conducted in iconic venues such as the Sydney Opera House and Royal Albert Hall.
He has conducted a wide range of performances, covering symphony, ballet, opera, pops, family, and film including the Harry Potter, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ratatouille films in concert, plus several Disney concerts. His orchestral arrangements have been performed by orchestras such as the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, New York Pops, Guangzhou Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Indianapolis Symphony, BBC Symphony, and Royal Philharmonic. Gerard has also collaborated as arranger or conductor across different styles with artists like Lea Salonga, Sumi Jo, Regine Velasquez, Wang Leehom, Wu Tong, Cecile Licad, Tengku Irfan, Paul Archibald, Hacken Lee, Anthony Lun, Elisa Chan, Ivana Wong, Michael Ball, Blake, Il Divo, Danielle de Niese, TaikOz, Ksenija Sidorova, Shen Yang, Llŷr Williams, James Ehnes, Jing Wang, Jan Lisiecki, and The Beach Boys.
In 2018 Gerard 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 (Denmark) 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 collaborations with the Malaysian Composers’ Collective, conducting new works by Malaysian composers. In 2023 Gerard conducted the world premiere of Elliot Leung’s Metaverse Symphony with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the recording of which has been released by Sony Classical. In the same year, he made his debut with the Thailand Philharmonic and soprano Sumi Jo.
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.
He has served as a jury member of several competitions, including the finals of the National Music Competition for Young Artists (Philippines) in 2016 and 2018, the 2021 Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore) concerto competition, and served on the jury of the 1st Malaysian National Concerto Competition. In 2020 he was one of the panellists for the San Francisco Conservatory conducting seminar, and in Malaysia, he has given lectures on conducting through MPO’s education and outreach to institutions such as the Association of International Schools Malaysia, Taylor’s University, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
In 2012 Gerard 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).
In 2024, aside from continuing his work with MPO and OFY, he will once again guest-conduct the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Singapore Symphony Orchestras, as well as perform in Australia and the UK.
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 Professor Nobuo Shiga and conducting with Professor Kazue Kamiya at Toho Gakuen School of Music (Tokyo, Japan); and with Professor 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 the Second World War.
Furusawa was the Principal Conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) from 2020 to 2021 and is currently the Resident Conductor of the MPO. He also served as covering conductor for Mark Wigglesworth, Roberto Abbado, Stéphane Denève, Jun Märkl and Vladimir Ashkenazy.
The MPO, under his baton, kicked off its 18th Season in 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 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, 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 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 Centre.
He made his debut with the MPYO in the International Youth Orchestra Festivals at the Esplanade, Singapore in 2017, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong in 2018, and Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta in 2019.
Furusawa and the MPO have toured Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Johor Bahru and Melaka in 2018, and Dalian, China in 2019.