Sunday, October 30, 2011

First Two Hong Kong Concerts

Hello and long time no blog! My apologies. For whatever reason, October has been a busy month for me. I’ve been meeting new people and doing cool things in addition to working like the dickens at my school. Since my last post, I’ve taken a trip to two of the outlying islands (Lamma and Tung Lung Chau), been to the “Halloween Bash” at Ocean Park theme park, had some truly heavenly Indian food and gone to two musical events that I’ll be describing in more detail for you now.

One of the very few disappointments I’ve had during my time here has been my lack of participation in and/or exposure to anything musical. After so much involvement in high school and college, I’ve only really made music in the classroom with kids’ songs. This is fun and all, but before I came, I was really hoping to find some concerts to watch and musical compadres to jam with. Well, this month I attended an opera and a symphony performance. It wasn’t by any means the HK rock ‘n’ roll scene I’m still looking to find, but seeing and hearing classical music live quenched a deep concert thirst I’d been neglecting.

The opera I watched was called Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, all about the controversial love life of China’s revolutionary hero of 1911. Despite not being a huge opera junky, I thoroughly enjoyed this unique work. Having made its world premiere two days before, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was sung in Mandarin and was accompanied by a Chinese-style orchestra, despite being Western in nature. And by that, I mean the opera company typically performs works of Verdi, Mozart and Puccini (not a traditional Chinese opera troupe). Musically, SYS was a fascinating combination of eastern and western influences, which made sense, as the composer was a Julliard trained Chinese born man.

Another interesting tidbit about the opera was that it premiered in Hong Kong by default after being ‘postponed’ in Beijing for vague reasons. The article I read cited ‘logistical issues’ but everyone is speculating that the Chinese government felt uneasy about the subject matter, both Sun’s love life and the revolutionary themes present throughout. The fact that this was not an issue in Hong Kong represents why I love this city. Censorship doesn’t really happen here. And people are free to throw tomatoes at their representatives! (Yes, that happened in a government hearing a couple weeks ago and was all over the TV).

The other performance I went to was the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven, Elgar and Wagner. I managed to snag student tickets in the front row for about $8 US(!!!), but they turned out to be off to the side and not totally ideal due to the panoramic style of the concert hall. Still, to see the city's top classical group was a thrill, especially for one of my favorite pieces in Beethoven’s Pastorale. This rocked furthermore after I got to hang out with some orchestra members at a bar by the pier afterwards. If you want to come here and study upright bass, I now know the people to contact ☺

With my busy work schedule, my faraway living locale and the lack of a major musical culture in HK, it makes sense that I haven’t attended many concerts here. But I know if I put an effort into it, I can work some concerts back into my life. This is a good thing, considering there are few experiences as powerful and uplifting as live music.

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