Do Re Mi, Hong Kong!

One of my little quirks is to catch some music performance whenever I travel. Ditto for this trip to Hong Kong, where I caught a couple of classical music performance. I actually wanted to also check out a mini jazz fest in Soho, but time did not permit.

The first was a free lunchtime recital “Good Music This Lunch”, featuring cellist Wendy Law and members of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. The venue is the Agnes B Cinema at Hong Kong Arts Centre. An interesting venue for a recital as I thought this was an art house cinema. I managed to find my way there from the MTR, zigzagging through throngs of people who were heading towards the nearby Immigration building and mainland tourists posing for photos with – of all landmarks in Hong Kong – Revenue Tower (i.e. tax authority building).

A one-hour lunchtime concert, the programme included a bite-sized work of Martinu and a solo cello piece by Ligetti, culminating in a Phantasy Quartet for violin, viola, cello and oboe by Britten, an unusual combination of instruments. I liked how this was branded a “lunchtime concert” in that you can munch on a simple sandwich as long as it doesn’t disturb other audience members. In Singapore there are recitals held during lunch hours too (though not enough!) but that’s where the similarity ends. Eating, even on public transport, is such a taboo here that I seriously doubt that gobbling – even if quietly and with thy mouth close – during a music recital would happen anytime soon. Till then, we can only cultivate the art of silent nibbling in vain hope of greater liberties, which in my book includes being able to eat as and when we want to (as long as you clean up your own mess).

As if landing in Hong Kong at 4.30am, rushing to catch a recital, doing a blitzkrieg shopping roundup of Causeway Bay was not enough, on the very same day, I took the evening ferry to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre to catch the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in action. Sailing up to a music venue – now that’s called arriving in style!

The programme showcased 2 works: Britten’s Violin Concerto (which I wasn’t familiar with at all) featuring violinist Simone Lamsma, and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. I thought the Violin Concerto was whimsical enough and the orchestra’s performance of the Symphony led by Jaap Van Zweden managed to keep me awake despite my severe lack of sleep. I like the programme booklet which included soundbites from musicians with key solo parts in the performance giving their 2 cents worth about the programme (usually if performers contribute to the programme notes, it’s only the conductor and the guest soloist who do so – both of whom by the way, also contributed to these programme notes). The art of programme notes writing is something I admire and aspire to. But as an audience member, I had also always been curious about what the performers think about the work they are playing.

Anyone here has any other musical performances to recommend? For my next trip to Hong Kong!

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