HKCO at 40

The 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s independence from Britain isn’t this year’s only major milestone: in September Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (HKCO) turns 40. To mark the occasion, HKCO is running the third instalment of its International Conducting Competition for Chinese Music, as well as hosting two special commemorative concerts. Maria Roberts speaks to artistic director Yan Huichang and executive director Celina Chin to find out more

IAM: It’s 40 years since the orchestra was founded: how do you plan to mark this historic milestone?

Yan Huichang: We’ve actually run celebratory events since September 2016, beginning with the first rounds of our Chinese Music Without Bounds – International Composition Competition (ICC). The Finals Concert took place on 1 March, 2017. In the coming July, we will host the Third International Conducting Competition for Chinese Music.

Then in September, when we officially turn 40, we have a special concert to showcase HKCO’s traditional and modern repertoire. We will perform not only traditional pieces, but also new ones including the ‘Best Orchestra Work’ from this year’s ICC. The concert will feature soloists and the Hong Kong Children’s Choir performing a wide array of works showcasing our rich repertoires and our social responsibility and cultural inheritance.

Celina Chin: We’re also hosting a video competition. Participants under the age of 40 are invited to make an original 40-second film, using Chinese music and depicting Chinese instruments in the visuals. The entries will be uploaded online and the citizens of Hong Kong will vote for the winner.

How are you connecting with young people and what outcomes are you expecting to see? 

Chin: Over the years, HKCO has spent a lot of effort on professional education and community education. In the coming season, we will continue to join hands with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and Music Office in an internship scheme, as well as organising conducting masterclasses to nurture Chinese music professionals.

On a community education level, we are organising the Hong Kong International Youth Music Festival. For this young talents from around the world can come to Hong Kong and communicate with the local Chinese music talents, both at community performances and through a concert at Hong Kong Cultural Centre. These visiting young musicians will perform, mix, mingle, learn and play with local musicians to create a ‘Music Without Bounds’ experience.

This is not only an event on Chinese music, but also a milestone for Hong Kong youth development. By inviting youth Chinese orchestras from the Mainland, Taiwan and Singapore to Hong Kong for music and cultural exchange, joint performance, and a Chinese music rally, we hope to make Hong Kong a platform and a home for the boundless development of Chinese music.

The list of participating orchestras has yet to be finalised, but we expect groups including our Junior Chinese Orchestra, the Music Office’s Chinese orchestra, as well as orchestras from Thailand and Mainland China to take part. Members of the orchestra will come together to form a mega orchestra for the Chinese Music Rally, which should be spectacular.

This article is an extract from a feature in the June edition of IAM. To subscribe to the magazine click here.