If you need any more persuading that tonight’s concert will be well worth your time, check out this great photo of Sharon Choa conducting the Academy Symphony Orchestra for the first time.
Tomorrow (Thursday 19th), the Academy Symphony Orchestra will perform in its last big concert of the academic year.
It’s a particularly special occasion because our new Chair of The School of Music, Sharon Choa, will be conducting the orchestra for the first time. Sharon has a great reputation as a conductor in the UK (see her website www.sharonchoa.co.uk) so I wanted to ask her a couple of questions about how she’s finding her HKAPA experience so far.
How do you find the Academy’s student musicians, compared to those you worked with in London?
They are brilliant – I have a lot of respect for them; especially the soloists – they are quite exceptional compared to any young musician in the world.
An outstanding quote on your website reads: “What drives my life is passion, at every level of endeavour…”. Do you think musicians in Hong Kong share that feeling of passion for what they do? And how about our classical music audiences?
Many of them do; but as with everything in life, there are people who are passionate and devoted to everything they do and there are some who simply aren’t. Sometimes, it may also be a matter of mode of expression.
I do believe there are a lot of music lovers in Hong Kong who would perhaps like to understand more about their passion – their reason for loving music, or a specific kind of music. There seems to be a lot of initiatives in HK to ‘enlighten’ audiences, so I sense that there is a good trend and good potential for development in all directions.
How was the programme for the concert chosen? (for details, see below) Did you have final say on pieces and performers?
The programmes were entirely chosen by the student soloists – we just have to learn the scores of the repertoires they have chosen – it is quite a task! – as these are big works of very different styles.
I notice that there is a Chinese music piece included in the programme. Have you conducted musicians playing Chinese instruments before and what, if any, are the differences in approach?
No, I have never conducted a piece with Chinese instrumental soloists – I find this most interesting because of the different ‘accents’ and ‘intonation’ Chinese music presents. We are trying to create a ‘Chinese spirit’ with a Western-style symphony orchestra – in terms of colour, mode of articulation and the music’s dramatic narrative. I hope this will come through in the performance.
This should be an exceptional and enjoyable evening of music. Hope you can make it!
Academy Concerto Concert III, Academy Concert Hall, Thursday June 19 2014 @ 7.30pm
Composers & Programmes
Zhou Yuguo: Guzheng Concerto, Tune of Rainbow Cloud Soloist: Ho Ying-ying
Strauss: Horn Concerto No 1, OP 11 Soloist: Harry Chu Chin-pong
Forsyth: Viola Concerto in G minor Soloist: Chris Choi Shu-lun
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, OP. 35 Soloist: Sharon Chan Shawn-nan
Concert duration: 2 hours with an intermission
Tickets are free and released half an hour before the start of the performance from the Box Office on a first-come, first-served basis.
After a long break from blogging, I’m delighted to be back with news of one of our very special 30th Anniversary productions, The Taming of the Shrew. And who better to talk about it than Chair of the School of Drama, Ceri Sherlock, who is directing the interdisciplinary production. Over to you, Ceri!
Progress report … notes to self
“Just over half way through the rehearsal period and with performances in exactly a month’s time (May 9th & 10th) this is the moment to take stock. The journey began driven by the old Department of Chinese Opera several years ago but has now linked to the Academy’s 30th Anniversary celebrations involving most of our Schools of Dance, Drama, Music and Theatre and Entertainment Arts. The journey and the creativity and challenge it requires have exponentially increased, together with expectation – no pressure there!
But it remains extraordinarily exciting, interesting and inspiring, demanding many and different challenges in staging and interpretation (and diplomacy).
Achieving a common purpose under a single artistic vision has been essential, as notoriously, creativity and originality, even less innovation, is hard to achieve (more so without sufficient time, resources and cooperative understanding). Artistic preference, taste and expression are unique and as a Director (of stage productions) I know how important it is to create a team but also to lead it, steer it, shape its artistic choices and keep it moving forward.
Time and scheduling are our natural enemies. There is never enough time to create art – Goethe reminds us that “art is long, but life is short” how right he was! – co-ordinating timetables of regular classes and individual Schools’ production times and practices is the challenge. Fortunately, Western production practice in which I am educated is disciplined to be efficient and economic using the best of the time available. It makes for a result but not always for depth and detail. More detail needed – more time for creative exploration!
But working on Shakespeare again is so enriching, and like an education in itself. On the one hand Shakespeare is so direct in story and character but so complex in nuance, meaning and message. The Taming of the Shrew, (not my choice of his plays – far too difficult) is a particularly challenge as it requires a firm hand and a clear interpretation. It can just become a silly ‘battle of the sexes’ romp, enjoyable but ultimately condoning that which Shakespeare puts at the focus of his play – power, status, hierarchy and human ‘civilized’ interaction. It can become a ‘distracting comedy’ rather than the ‘conceit’ or the game/trick that Shakespeare had in mind for his exploration of love, marriage and relationships.
In rehearsals the tendency to comedy is easy and enjoyable, but not quite on the mark. The Chinese Opera sections tend to avoid any seriousness ‘to please the audience’. We need to be clear about why we are doing this play, today!
And artforms – there is a world of difference between the culture of Cantonese Opera and Western Theatre. In my previous imaginings Chinese Theatre is one of the world’s most disciplined and dedicated of theatre practices but I discover that the rigours of a School of Drama rehearsal regime is perhaps even more regimented. But the exposure of both to each other is fruitful and there is a creativity of being alien and a creativity in being “lost in translation”. This is the space of innovation.
At this stage the ‘language of the production’ is forming and defining itself but the challenge of unifying still remains … hybridity (and postmodernity) is eclectic in nature, but should not be diffuse in meaning. Clarify! Simply! Be Consistent! Communicate with the audience, and say something relevant!
My creative collaborators both students and colleagues are being brilliant and patient, adding this production to their extremely busy and very Hong Kong daily and personal schedules.
It is great to be working again with costume designer Mandy Tam, our third collaboration, and to work with Yoki Lai – so creative and imaginative with the setting and the task of bringing together the disparate elements in a contemporary aesthetic that incorporates East and West. But thank goodness I am lucky to be Chair of Drama and can call on my School for support and assistance not least the Director of Movement and Associate Director, the talented Tony Wong and my, rather clever and wonderful Assistant to Director students, Chuen and Donald. But once again I am reminded of my professional life at the highest level, when I work with the Stage Management team from the School of Theatre and Entertainment Arts … where would we be …
But just finishing Act1/Part1 and starting Act2/Part 2 a month before opening cannot breed any complacency – there is so much to do … soooo much to do, and so much detail to be done!
And then there are the holidays … why so many at this time of the year … and in the middle of our production? … even Shakespeare’s Birthday on the 26th of April!
Corragio! We won’t please everyone but it will be darned interesting and highly creative. Keep going forward … to be continued!
Artistic Director of the project
& Chair of the School of Drama
It only comes once a year, so make sure you take the opportunity this Sunday to come and visit the APA and find out what we do here.
There will be an opening ceremony in the main foyer at 10am and then a whole day of Student Performances, demonstration classes, exhibitions and chances for you to get involved with open classes and interactive programmes. If you want to visit our beautiful sister campus in Pokfulam, Bethanie, there will be free shuttle buses running every 15 minutes. Events run until 5.30pm
HKAPA students love introducing people to the place and to what they do. It’s a really special occasion, so do your best to make it!
We have a great selection of concerts for you this week. They are all free and tickets can be picked up from the Box Office thirty minutes before the performance starts. Enjoy!
Tuesday 25th February at 6.30pm in the Recital Hall
String Concert featuring selections from Bach’s Partita No. 1 in B minor, Paganini’s Moses Fantasy, Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor, Saint-Saëns’ Introduction et Rondo capriccioso in A minor and Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, “Death and the Maiden”.
Wednesday 26th February at 6.30 pm in the Recital Hall
Brass Department Concert featuring Cousins by Herbert Clarke, Heiden’s Sonata, Haydn’s Concerto for Trumpet, Gliere’s Nocturne & Romance, Softly, As I Leave You by Catherall, Rumanian Dance No. 2 by Dumitru, Lebedev’s Concerto for Bass Trombone and Cornucopia for Horn Quartet by Hoffman.
Wednesday 26th February at 8pm in the Concert Hall
Academy Chinese Winds and Percussion Concert with an ensemble consisting of Suona, Guan, Dizi, Sheng, Percussion and Erhu players and adiverse programme.
Thursday 27th at 6.30pm & Friday 28th at 7.30pm, both in the Recital Hall, there will be a Piano Concert and an Early Music Concert respectively. Programmes to follow.
This week, the Drama School presents Ubu, a Cantonese production of Alfred Jarry’s seminal play, Ubu Roi. Considered to be a forerunner of Theatre of the Absurd and Surrealism, the play caused a riot when it opened in Paris at the end of the 19th century.
This production is being staged in the Studio Theatre every night this week at 7.45 and twice on Saturday the 1st, at 2.45 and 7.45. With many of our graduating students in starring roles, it promises to be as “wild, bizarre and comic” as the original. Tickets @ $50 for students and $95 for the rest of us.
The programme for tomorrow’s string concert has just been released and here it is. A lovely mix of baroque, romantic and modern pieces will leave you feeling relaxed and ready to enjoy the rest of your evening. Starts at 6.30pm, pick up your free tickets half an hour before at the box office.Cello Suite No.3 in C major, BWV 1009 Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Prélude Allemande Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 27, No. 2 “Jacques Thibaud” Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) II .Malinconia III .Danse des Ombres; Sarabande La Folia arr. Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) Viola Concerto in G minor Cecil Forsyth (1870-1941) I .Appassionato (Cadenza) – Moderato – Con moto, agitato String Quartet No.1,in A major , Op.7 Ernő Dohnányi (1877-1960) IV .Finale: Vivace
Not a reference to the terrible floods that are plaguing that country at the moment but to our brass concert on Monday that has an all-British programme with guests: trumpeter Chris Moyse who hails from England and plays with the HK Phil and pianist Jacqueline Leung, who studied at the UK’s Royal College of Music.
The programme features ten British composers from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first. Not to be missed!
Henry Purcell (1659-1695) – Allegro (First Movement) from Sonata in D major
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) – Overture from Suite in D major
William Lloyd Webber (1914-1982) – Suite in F major
Joseph Horovitz (1926- ) – Concertino Classico
Malcolm Bennett – Rutland Water
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) – Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury
David Gwilt (1932- ) – Opuscule
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934- ) – Sonatina for Solo Trumpet
Cyril Scott (1879-1970) – British Melodies
John Hartmann (1830-1897) – Fantasia Brilliante – Rule Britannia
Tomorrow afternoon is the Junior Public Concert, an opportunity to see our gifted young musicians in action. As promised in an earlier post, following is the programme. If you can’t make it tomorrow, there will be another concert in March and I’ll give you the information as soon as I have it.
III Allegro con fuoco from the Concerto in D minor by Wieniawski
Yellow After the Rain by Peters
III Intermezzo: Allegro non troppo from the Symphonie Espagnole in D minor by Lalo
I Allegro moderato from the Concerto in D major by Mozart
Clarinet Concerto by Copland
Rain Dance by Gomez and Rife
Sarabande et Courante by Corelli
I Allegro moderato from the Concerto in G major by Seitz
Caprice No. 24 by Paganini
Allegretto: Polacca from the Serenade in C major by Zucchi
Saturday 15th March at 3pm in the Recital Hall. Tickets are free and can be collected 30 minutes before the performance from the Box Office. First come, first served.