40th Orchestral Season

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The Exceptional

Champions in Concert II

Mong Man Wai Mong Pui Yee Perlie Charitable Foundation proudly supports

Date and Time
8:00 pm
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Ticket Fee
$100, $160, $260, $310
Xue Yuan
Performed by
Erhu: Lu Yiwen
Guanzi: Ma Wai Him

Championing Crossover

It’s an evening of champs, where talents from far and wide come together to make music. At the helm is the young conductor, Xue Yuan, first-prize winner of the 2nd International Conducting Competition for Chinese Music. He will bring to the audience two amazingly different feasts. The programmes of the two concerts truly know no bounds, as they are taken from both the traditional and the modern/ contemporary repertoires. Zhao Jiping’s The Silk Road Fantasia Suite is a description of China’s exotic West, and features HKCO young virtuoso, Ma Wai Him, winner of the Silver Award in the Folk Instruments section at the 16th Osaka International Music Competition in Japan, and champion and representative of the Hong Kong region.  Traces 5 is a musical depiction of four types of Chinese calligraphy written by Wen Deqing. The dynamic brush strokes will be transformed into musical notes on the erhu, performed by Lu Yiwen, winner of the Gold Award at the Erhu Competition which was part of the Chinese Golden Bell Awards for Music 2015.  The two concerts promise to be a fine mix of music written by paragons of East and West, performed by talents who shine in supernova glory!



Silk Road    Jiang Ying

Guanzi Concerto      The Silk Road Fantasia Suite      Zhao Jiping

As the Moon Rises    Ancient Melody    Arr. by Peng Xiuwen

Becoming a Butterfly in a Dream    Chen Ning-chi

Luan-Yun-Fei    adapted from the Peking Opera Azalea Mountain    Arr. by Peng Xiuwen


Moonlight on the Spring River    Ancient Melody    Arr. by Peng Xiuwen

The Insect World    Doming Lam

Erhu Concerto    Traces V    Wen Deqing

Pictures at an Exhibition (Excerpts)    Mussorgsky    Arr. by Peng Xiuwen

Know Your Music

Heritage and Modernity, East and West

For the HKCO’s second Champions in Concert series, the programmes lined up for the two evenings feature three prize winners – Ma Wai Him on the guanzi, Lu Yiwen on the erhu, and Xue Yuan leading the orchestra – who will perform nine pieces of completely different music, specially chosen to illustrate the development of Chinese orchestral music as a genre and its differing relationships with tradition and contemporaneity, as well as the influences from East and West in its symphonization process. When writing these pieces, the composers have pulled out all the stops in their attempts to create music that can reach out to the listeners and broaden their musical vista at the same time.
As the titles suggest, the theme of Jiang Ying’s Silk Road and Zhao Jiping’s The Silk Road Fantasia Suite focuses on the ancient trans-continental trade route which stood testimony to the long history of cultural interactions between China and the West. Jiang’s work combines various features of music from China’s western region, Central Asia and the Middle East and elements of world music with the characteristics of traditional Chinese instruments, their exotic timbre and performance practices. The result is a splendid reverie of the golden expanse of the Gobi Desert sands reflecting the sunlight. Zhao’s Fantasia is inspired by the sketches, pictorial compositions and ink strokes of Chinese traditional landscape paintings about the Silk Road. In it, imagination runs free and scenes along the ancient passageway come alive.
In addition to traditional painting, Chinese calligraphy, traditional theatre and philosophy have also long provided composers with much of their favourite creative ideas. In his erhu concerto Traces V, Wen Deqing draws inspiration from four types of script in Chinese calligraphy to create four movements of contrasting moods. In Luan-Yun-Fei, Peng Xiuwen transforms theatre music from Peking Opera into a soul-stirring tune through meticulous instrumentation. In Becoming a Butterfly in a Dream, Chen Ning-chi’s musical conceit comes from Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi’s Qiwulun (“Equalizing Assessment of Things”). But having said all these, and despite the titles given or the Chinese traditional culture motifs, I’d suggest another way of enjoying them, and that is, to brush aside the extra-musical associations and composers’ original conceits, and solely enjoy the rich emotions expressed.
In the same vein, the two highly popular traditional tunes, As the Moon Rises and Moonlight on the Spring River, can be enjoyed beyond the supposed musical narrative with Peng Xiuwen’s orchestral arrangement. Although he has retained the scenic and emotive elements of the original tunes, the rich tone colour and acoustics have been augmented to drive the listener to let his imagination roam free…
Doming Lam’s The Insect World and Peng Xiuwen’s transcribed version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition are different and yet similar at the same time. Lam’s is an experimental piece for the inchoate Chinese orchestra. The composer brought in a plethora of modern compositional techniques to expand the tonality, harmony and timbre of Chinese music. In other words, it was a work ‘tailor-made’ for the Chinese orchestra. Peng’s arrangement of Mussorgsky was an attempt to broaden the scope of expressivity of the Chinese orchestra by ‘borrowing’ a Western classic. What they have in common is that they both incorporate the traditional and the modern as well as elements of East and West in their creative conceit, musical ideas, techniques and even effects. Both pieces have a distinctive visual quality expressed through acoustic conjuration to describe varied emotions. Now the interesting question is: are the images they conjure up Western or Eastern? That is something the audience needs to decide for themselves.
To conclude, my feeling is that composers today pick their creative material very much in the same manner as chefs in Hong Kong do: the ingredients come from all over the world, and they can pick whichever is suitable, regardless of whether it comes from the East or the West, traditional or contemporary. More significantly, heritage versus modernity and Eastern versus Western are relative concepts. What is ‘contemporary’ today will become the ‘traditional’ of the future, and the geographical demarcation of East and West will continue to blur as globalization spreads. Even if composers deliberately inject these elements into their creation, the end product would invariably turn out dissimilar – with some emphasizing the traditional element, others the Western influence. Whichever the penchant may be, it is not easy to distinguish between them – and rightly so because it is unnecessary. To a listener, what counts is how it feels when the sounds reach his ear and when the music touches his heart. On the part of the composer, in constantly striving to combine heritage, modernity, East and West in the music he creates, the ultimate goal is to expand the world of music, enhance expressivity, and broaden the musical experience of the audience.
Trailer_Xue Yuan
Trailer_Lu Yiwen
Trailer_Ma Wai Him