Maestro Dato’ Woon Wen Kin
Music Director of the Penang Symphony Society
“I wanted to prove that one is never too old to make music. In fact, many of the world’s best conductors go on till their 80s or 90s.”
Maestro Dato’ Woon Wen Kin is a prolific performer, a passionate educator and the most experienced symphony orchestra conductor in Malaysia. In England, he participated in the International Oxford Bach Festival, the Annual Sir Hendry Wood’s Concerts; worked for the London Opera Centre and recorded several violin recitals for the BBC Overseas Service. Subsequently, he was awarded a conducting scholarship by the Federal Republic of Germany to study advance conducting.
Instead of furthering his career abroad, he decided to return to Malaysia and he began to promote and develop orchestral music ever since. In 1978, he was appointed by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports to establish the National Music Camp and served as the music director. In addition, he was appointed the principal conductor of the 1st ASEAN Youth Music Workshop in 1980. In 1991, he was also appointed as the advisor and the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra.
In 1980, Dato’ Woon founded the Penang Symphony Society and served as its President and Music Director. Through the Society, he has contributed towards the rise of orchestral music in Penang and Malaysia. He has also nurtured thousands of talented musicians, who are now established musicians in academics and performances, furthering the initiatives of promoting orchestral music locally and worldwide in many countries. Today, the Society houses the Penang Symphony Orchestra, Penang Wind Orchestra and Penang Junior Orchestra. Over the years, Dato’ Woon has led these orchestras to perform in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
As a globally respected musician, he has been invited as a guest conductor to perform in China, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines and USA; as well as an adjudicator in the International Mozart Competition for Young Musicians Festival and the International Nier Violin Competition.
He has received many awards for his contributions in music and culture. He has received the Australia’s Oversea Culture Award, the Schubert Medal Award by the Vienna City, the Anugerah Karyawar Seni Musik (Best Director of Music), the Asia-Pacific Cultural Industry Exhibition by China, the Cultural Award in Music, the Lifetime Achievement Award, to name a few.