Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Concert in Singapore
January 28, 2023
After a more than four-year hiatus, the internationally acclaimed Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (HKCO) returned to Singapore with much fanfare, garnering encores and standing ovation from a full house of close to 1 600 audience at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.
Sponsored by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore through the funding of Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, the concert was a highlight event of the Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts, a long-running arts festival curated by the Esplanade for two decades during the Chinese New Year to showcase the works of the most outstanding Chinese artists.
Officiating at a private reception attended by some 160 guests from the academia, business, shipping, arts and cultural sectors as well as local Hong Kong communities before the concert, the director of the Singapore ETO, Mr Owin Fung, extended a warm welcome to the members of HKCO. Commending the high level of artistry of the 100-strong orchestra, he remarked that HKCO was another fine embodiment of Hong Kong’s soft power as a vibrant arts and cultural hub that houses different world-class art troupes.
The Chairman of HKCO, Mr Benjamin Chan, added in his speech that the orchestra had long enjoyed a close relationship with Singapore, noting Professor Yan Huichang, its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for Life, was a recipient of the Singapore Cultural Medallion in 2001. Professor Yan made his debut performance in HKCO at the Festival of Asian Performing Arts in 1997 presented by the Singapore’s National Arts Council. Exchange between the two cities has also been frequent, as Mr Tsung Yeh, Conductor Emeritus of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, was one of the guest conductors in HKCO’s second online International Symposium for Chinese Music Conducting in May 2022.
The concert has won rounds of applause from the audience. Under the baton of Professor Yan, audience was first treated to a jubilant The Chorale of Spring heralding the arrival of the Lunar New Year, followed by a pleasant Suite Twelve Months. Principal pipa musician Ms Zhang Ying then presented a captivating song Pipa Concerto No. 2. This was followed by a collaborative performance Reeds by principal sheng musician Mr Chen Yi-wei and British organist Mr Jonathan Scott in an innovative yet harmonious blend of Chinese and Western instruments. Oscar-winning composer Mr Tan Dun’s work Northwest Suite No. 1 was another highlight, as it showcased human spirit in the harsh environment of the plateau in Northwestern China. The concert finished with a festive vibe as a 'God of Wealth' made a surprising appearance on stage and the Happy Birthday song was played to celebrate the seventh day of the Chinese New Year, a day known as the birthday of everyone.
Founded in 1977, HKCO is one of the 9 public-funded major performing groups in Hong Kong. With a mission to promote the Chinese music to the world, it serves as a cultural ambassador of Hong Kong. After the successful performance in Singapore in January, it will tour four cities in Japan in March and April.
House Programme of the concert: