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Jahja Ling conducts last concerts with San Diego Symphony this weekend

SAN DIEGO — Jahja Ling, who lifted the San Diego Symphony out of obscurity and helped restore its financial footing, will begin his final weekend as conductor Friday at the Jacobs Music Center.

Ling, 65, will conduct a program that includes Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 and Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2. Yefim Bronfman will perform as a guest pianist.

The programs are scheduled to begin Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets remain for all three shows, according to the symphony’s website.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to have served our community for 13 seasons,” said Ling, a Bonita resident.

“I am also very thankful and proud for all of the achievements our orchestra has accomplished,” he said. “I believe that the spirit of joy and artistic integrity in making the greatest music will continue and creating that special sound which I have instilled in our orchestra will live on for decades.”

The native of Jakarta, Indonesia, was resident conductor of the renowned Cleveland Orchestra for 18 years and music director of the Florida Orchestra for 15 years.

When he arrived in San Diego, the symphony was just a few years removed from bankruptcy and a two-year shutdown. The organization was saved by a $120 million pledge from Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan.

The symphony thrived artistically under his leadership. In 2013, he led the musicians on a first-ever concert at Carnegie Hall, which was followed by a tour of China where the orchestra appeared in five concerts in Yantai — San Diego’s sister city — Shanghai and Beijing.

The symphony is currently engaged in talks with the Port of San Diego to build a permanent outdoor concert venue on the downtown bayfront for the Summer Pops, and other musical acts.

“His leadership of this orchestra will remain a gift for generations to come,” said symphony CEO Martha Gilmer.

She said Ling will become the symphony’s conductor laureate so they can invite him back in the future as a guest conductor. He also plans to teach, pursue international guest conducting and continue work in Christian ministry.

Ling’s tenure is the longest in the San Diego Symphony’s history.