HK kid's symphony returns to NY

Updated: 2014-07-24 11:15

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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The Hong Kong Children's Symphony Orchestra returned to New York City this week five years after its last performance here, to play pieces from Mozart, Gershwin, and Shostakovich at the Kaufman Music Center.

The 72-member orchestra played Gershwin's An American in Paris, Shostakovich's Festive Overture, Op. 96 and a Chinese classic, Chen Gang and He Zhanhao's the Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto. It also played the US premiere of Cello Concert, composed by the orchestra's founder and music director Yip Waihong.

The orchestra consists of children ages 8 to 16, with the older children having played with the symphony for years, according to Yip, who also founded the Hong Kong Children's Choir and the Yip's Children's Choir. The children's symphony orchestra was founded in 1996 and has performed in New Zealand, Canada, Austria, France, Germany and Italy.

"Children's music education is not about producing musicians. Rather, it is about achieving the educational goals of a 'whole person,'" Yip wrote in the performance's show notes. "If one has the 'misfortune' of becoming a musician, it is purely by accident."

Yip told China Daily that he has always been interested in getting children to play instruments, and that as a music lover, he believes children are "the most malleable learners, able to absorb the foundations of music before they grow up."

Yip said that it's often hard to bring classical music to New York in hopes that the Chinese community here will turn up in large numbers to show support, since there "just isn't a lot of exposure to Western classical music in the community." The Hong Kong Chinese community is more acquainted with it, but Yip said he hopes that through performances given by groups like the children's orchestra that appreciation for classical music will increase with the Chinese community overseas.

The New York performance was supported by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in the city, part of its celebratory program for the 17th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

"I know that Hong Kong has often been seen as just a business city. This is quite a mistaken concept, I would say. Yes, Hong Kong has a lot of economic achievements that we do very well on different fronts, but we also have a lot to offer besides that," said Paul Cheung, acting director of the HKETO.

HK kid's symphony returns to NY

"We have extremely elegant musicians, including the Hong Kong Children's Symphony Orchestra. For me, the children in the orchestra are the best cultural ambassadors of Hong Kong, and through this concert we hope to promote closer cultural exchange between Hong Kong and New York," he said.

Conducting at the concert were Gabriel Leung and Law Pokwan. Leung was the chief conductor and director of Yip's Children's Choir throughout the 1990s and the principal conductor of the University of Hong Kong Union Philharmonic Orchestra. He is dean of the Li Ka Shing faculty of medicine at the University of Hong Kong. Law is a lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University and holds a doctorate of musical arts in choral conducting from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The orchestra heads to Toronto this weekend, followed by performances in Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, before returning to Hong Kong by the month's end.

 HK kid's symphony returns to NY

The Hong Kong Children's Symphony Orchestra perform in New York for the first time in five years at the Kaufman Music Center on Tuesday night, playing pieces by Mozart, Gershwin and Shostakovich. Amy He / China Daily