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The Distinguished Press Release

Koi Ming-fai & HKCO III

Koi Ming Fai will sing with HKCO the most touching classics for the 3rd time after the successful concerts in 2004 and 2005.

Know your Chinese music

Yip Shiu-tak - in a profession that is a line of its own

Tong Dik-sang, Wu Man-sum, Poon Yat-fan, Chan Koon-hing, Fung Chi-fun, Chun Chung-ying, Nam Hoi Sap Sam Long¡K¡K all these names are scriptwriters for Cantonese Opera and predecessors of Yip Shiu-tak, who is now in his late seventies. Despite this list of names, there are not as many scriptwriters in the field today. Yip, who is 'Uncle Tak' to many, aptly describes his own line as 'a rare occupation'. In fact, since the sudden death of So Yung a few years ago, the number of scriptwriters for Cantonese Opera has further diminished. In this scenario, Yip's award of an Honorary Fellowship by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts at their 21st Congregation last year is an affirmation of his achievements and contribution to the field. It also stands testimony to the positive outlook that no matter how what a rare profession it is, there is bound to be recognition. This might well be an incentive for young potential writers to join the profession. But then, at the end of the day, one has to admit that this is a rare profession indeed, one that is so rare that it is a line of its own.

The reason for not having younger people joining his profession, according to Yip, is that not many of them like Cantonese Opera. He might be speaking out of his own experience - he joined the profession fifty years ago simply because he 'liked' it. Years of passionate dedication have now borne fruit.

'Uncle Tak' developed an interest in Cantonese Opera and Cantonese operatic music since a young age. He received the direct tutelage of the virtuoso, Wong Yuet-sang, in writing libretti for the genres. In the 1950's and 1960's, he came to fame for his attempt to rewrite the famous production by the legendary Sit Kok-sin, Red Becomes the Top Scholar, and for his original libretto for Ho Fei-fan's production of The Illusive Dream of the Golden Well of the Red Mansions (1960). The success of the latter led to an invitation from the Sin Fung Ming Cantonese Opera Troupe to join them, after the sudden demise of their Scriptwriter-in-Residence, Tong Dik-sang. Tong left a rich legacy of Cantonese Operas that were to become the stock repertoire of the genre today, such as Princess Chang Ping, The Story of the Purple Hairpin and The Reincarnation of a Beauty. When Yip joined Sin Fung Ming, he was charged with the mission of rewriting these libretti for later productions of the Troupe. It proved to be a highly rewarding task because he learned a lot from the genius's works. His own libretto for The Legend of the White Snake - a New Version demonstrated how he had progressed in his literary writing skills. In 1966, after Yip wrote the libretto for a new production, Three Nights of Love and Twenty Years of Hate, he was also involved in many more new works for Cantonese Opera. After the 1970's, he crossed over to writing lyrics for themes of television drama series such as Fatal Irony, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Ten Assassins. In the 1980's, he was invited to host a programme on RTHK, in which he analysed the works of Tong Dik-sang and other famous works in Cantonese Opera.

Having been writing for Cantonese Opera for half a century, Yip has a brilliant track record of no less than seventy works. Some of the best known include The Last Emperor of Late Tang, The Orphan of the Zhao's, and A Chronicle Written in Blood, the last of which has some of the arias featured in this concert sung by Koi Ming Fai.

The Cantonese operatic songs he has either written or arranged are recognized for their flowing melody and elegant lyrics. Amongst them, Reunion on River Luo in a Dream was presented with the CASH Golden Sail Most Performed Work Award in 1995, and Before Becoming a Royal Hostage from The Last Emperor of Late Tang won the same award for a record-breaking seven times between 1998 and 2006.

'Uncle Tak' would be the last person to see scriptwriting for Cantonese Opera becoming a 'rare occupation'. That is why a few years ago, he accepted the invitation by the Arts Development Council to conduct a course on this, in the hope that he could pass on his decades of experience in writing music and scripts to the younger generation. He describes that the work is 'not anything difficult or easy in particular'. He even effaces himself by saying that he himself is a little short on the knowledge of stage movements, and on that, he reminds newcomers to the field to observe the entrances and exits in every show. The concept is important, and must be gleaned through one's own observation. In other words, though 'a line of its own', the profession of scriptwriting for Cantonese Opera needs both talent and hard work - and 'Uncle Tak' proves to be a successful example.


Commissioned Work No. 14 of 'Cadenzas of Hong Kong'
Fishing at Night in Tuen Mun   Li Ka-wa
(Commissioned by the HKCO / World Premiere)
(26.6 / 28.6 only)

Commissioned Work No. 15 of 'Cadenzas of Hong Kong'
Digital Hub   Alfred Wong
(Commissioned by the HKCO / World Premiere)
(25.6 / 27.6 / 29.6 only)

Three Summonses from A Chronicle Written in Blood
Original music: Yip Shiu-tak   Arr. by Bu Canrong
Devastating News from A Chronicle Written in Blood
Original music: Yip Shiu-tak   Arr. by Li Shek-um
A Fragrant Spirit   Arr. by Li Shek-um
Mourning Lady Yang from Emperor Ming of Tang
Nanyin   Arr. by Bu Canrong
Where Shall My Heart Belong
(Sung to the tune of Torrents of the River)
Arr. by Li Ka-wa   Lyrics by Yip Shiu-tak
Performed by Koi Ming-fai

A Heartbroken Denial from Princess Chang Ping
(Sung to the ancient tune of Farewell by the Autumn River)
Arr. by Simon Kong   Lyrics by Chris Shum
Theme from the television series Safe Guard   Yip Shiu-chung
Arr. by Simon Kong   Lyrics by Sung Pui-yin
Performed by Steven Ma

Romance of the Phoenix Chamber   Arr. by Phoon Yew-tien
Performed by Koi Ming-fai & Steven Ma

Kapok   Chung Shiu-fung   Arr. by Joshua Chan
Lyrics by Cheng Kwok-kong
Theme from the television series The Understudy
Joseph Koo   Arr. by Chow Hee-chiat
Lyrics by Cheng Kwok-kong
Debt of Love   Joseph Koo   Arr. by Alfred Wong
Lyrics by James Wong
Performed by Koi Ming-fai

Date : 25-29.6.2008
Time : 8:00 pm
Venue :
Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Concert Hall
$300, 220, 160, 100

Yan Huichang
  • "I was deeply impressed with the performance of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. Yan Huichang's conducting could bring the music of the entire orchestra to one single point, and showed confidence and flair."
    Liang Maochun, famous musicologis

  • "Music precision and charm just defined the conductor of the orchestra."
    Vancouver Sun

Koi Ming Fai
  • Koi Ming-fai was trained in wenwusheng (military and civil male) roles at the Cantonese Opera School of the Chinese Artists' Association of Hong Kong (Pak Wo), and coached by Wong Yuet-sang and Lau Siu-wing in singing. In 1990, she became a disciple of Chu Hing-cheung, a famous musician in Cantonese Opera, to polish her singing techniques.

  • In 1990, Ming Chee Sing Chinese Opera was set up, and Koi was highly recommended by seasoned artists to join the company. Since then, Koi has become one of the most popular wenwusheng performers in Cantonese Opera in Hong Kong.

  • Koi became the god-daughter of the famous Cantonese Opera star, Lam Ka-sing, in 1993. Lam taught her the best of his art in voice and delivery as well as all aspects of his performing art. Koi's long-term partnership with Ng Mei-ying, another seasoned artist performing huadan (flirtatious female) roles, has won for them the recognition as 'The perfect pair'.

  • Koi was given the title as a ¡¥Caring Star¡¦ for the years 1995, 1997 and 1998, and was presented with the honour as the ¡¥Superstar of Caring¡¦ by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 2001. She was also one of the Ten Most Outstanding Young Persons of Hong Kong in the same year.

Steven Ma
Special Guest
  • Singer, television and film actor all in one, Steven Ma began his performing career by winning the championship in the 3rd 'Pioneer' Karaoke Singing Contest in 1993. His first album, I Was Lucky to Have Met You, was released in December the same year. Since then, he has a discography of fourteen albums featuring Cantonese and Mandarin songs. He has appeared in live shows in Southeast Asia and China, and has given highly successful concerts in the United States and Canada.

  • As an actor, Ma has starred in many television series and films, and was voted HKTVB's audience favourite in 2006 for his outstanding performance.

  • A multi-talented artist, Ma is also an active figure in community involvement work. He is the author and publisher of Steven Ma¡¦s Documentary Report, a book series centred around social concerns, which is now into Volume III. The publication aims to explore social issues and encourage people to face the challenges in life with optimism.