Hailing from Malaysia, Harish Shankar enjoys a growing presence on the international stage. He is a prize winner at the 6th International Jorma Panula Conducting Competition and his conducting engagements have taken him as far as South America and Australasia.
To date, Shankar’s career involves engagements with the Jena Philharmonics, Leipzig Symphony Orchestra, Staatsphilharmonie Braunschweig, Orquesta Sinfónica de Trujillo, North Czech Philharmonic, Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, Vaasa City Orchestra, Jyväskylä Symphony Orchestra and Manchester Camerata. His debut with the Hallé Orchestra received high critical acclaim. With an active voice in the media, he has been featured in Classical Music Magazine and interviewed on BBC Radio 3.
Shankar is a pianist by training, having received initial piano lessons at the age of six with Penny Kam. He continued his studies with Loo Bang Hean before being accepted into the class of the noted pianist Professor Konstanze Eickhorst at the Conservatoire of Lübeck. He went on to study conducting with Eiji Oue and was subsequently invited to Peru to lead the orchestra of the country’s El Sistema project. This award-winning social project aims to bring children from all walks of life together with music. During his tenure with El Sistema Peru, he was able to conduct a number of regular and cross-over projects with an aim to engage a growing classical music scene in the country.
Shankar completed his Master’s degree in Conducting at the prestigious conservatoire of Weimar, Germany, under the tutelage of Professor Gunter Kahlert. He has also received valuable mentorship from Sir Mark Elder, Clark Rundell and Mark Heron. Masterclasses with Paavo Järvi, Nicolás Pasquet, Leonid Grin and Mark Stringer round up his studies. He has served as assistant conductor to a number of renowned artists including Sir Andrew Davis, Eckehard Stier, Juanjo Mena and Vasily Petrenko.
Currently Resident Conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Shankar will take up the post of first Kapellmeister at the opera house in Stralsund, Germany, next season.
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 four years old and later joined his junior high school orchestra as a double bass player at age 12; his first conducting experiences were with this orchestra. Later, he studied double bass with Prof. Nobuo Shiga, and piano and conducting with Prof. Kazue Kamiya at Tokyo’s Toho Gakuen School of Music.
Furusawa has performed as a double bass player with the NHK Symphony, Yomiuri Nihon Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and several other orchestras, under the direction of many conductors including Seiji Ozawa, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Horst Stein, Lorin Maazel, Herbert Blomstedt, Pierre Boulez and Valery Gergiev.
In 1998, Furusawa was awarded a scholarship from the Cultural Affairs Agency of Japan to study double bass at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg. He has conducted Beethoven’s 9th Symphony five times with Tokyo’s MAX Philharmonic Orchestra. He also conducted Mahler’s Second Symphony with the MAX Philharmonic to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
He has conducted many young musician ensembles including MPO’s Encounter Training Ensemble and the Miri Tutti Project in East Malaysia as part of MPO’s Education and Outreach Programme.