Jahja Ling is the music director and principle conductor for the San Diego Symphony. Currently in his seventh season with the orchestra, Mr. Ling has made great strides towards making the San Diego Symphony a world recognized ensemble. He was able to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for me via email.
Matt Shoaf: In your seven seasons with the San Diego Symphony you have accomplished much with the institution, from increasing attendance to most recently being designated a Tier 1 symphony. What achievement are you most proud of?
Jahja Ling: To be able to select the best musicians from all over the world to join our orchestra and have molded them into a great ensemble [where] they can be proud… to move people’s heart and souls through their music making.
MS: We know that you’ll be in San Diego at least through 2012, what goals do you have for the future of the San Diego Symphony?
JL: That this orchestra is no longer the best kept secret in San Diego and that people in all parts of the world can hear and enjoy our performances through international tour and TV broadcast.
MS: You are in high-demand for guest conducting appearances, who are you most looking forward to performing with this year?
JL: Returning to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for 4 performances at the Sydney Opera House with Lang Lang next June, taking the Taipei Symphony Orchestra on tour to Japan for two weeks, as well as returning back to the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom on the evening of Sep 10, 2011 performing Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in a concert of Tribute and Remembrance of the 10th anniversary of Sep 11th.
MS: Living composers have to applaud your willingness to perform their works. Is there a contemporary work that you haven’t yet had a chance to conduct with the San Diego Symphony?
JL: There are many works from past and living composers which I have not conducted with this orchestra. Among those, Mahler 8th, Bruckner 8th, Janacek works etc. From the living composer I wish we can do some of Pierre Boulez’s works as well as work from John Adams, John Harbison, Alan Jay Kernis, Peter Bannister, Siegrfried Matthus, Thomas Ades etc.
MS: You originally started your career as a pianist. How often do you get to sit down at the piano now a day?
JL: Due to the demand of my schedule as conductor, I do not often have the time to sit down and play the piano. However, when I am asked to play in certain project, I would return to practicing regularly to prepare for that concert.
Thank you to Jahja Ling for his time, see the San Diego Symphony website for upcoming performances. For more you can watch local station KUSI interview Jahja Ling.