Hong Kong Orchestra Reaches out to Canada

Yip Wing-sie, conductor © Photo: Yvonne Chan
Hong Kong Sinfonietta
Tianwa Yang, violin © Photo: Friedrun Reinhold
Loo Sze-wang, sheng

First Canadian tour of one of Hong Kong’s flagship professional orchestras

I first heard about the Hong Kong Sinfonietta from NAC Orchestra Music Director Pinchas Zukerman.  He had high praise for their artistry and talked fondly about making music with them, so far away, in Hong Kong.  Listening to him speak, I wanted to check them out for myself – but how?  At that time, they had never toured Canada.

This week, all that changed. They opened their first North American tour with a concert in Vancouver’s Chan Centre last weekend and, reading the coverage in the Vancouver Sun, I was caught up in the excitement.  So, I made my plan – on Monday, October 8,  I’m hopping in a car and driving to Montreal to attend the final concert of their North American tour at Maison Symphonique.

And who wouldn’t want to hear them?  European critics have hailed this group as "an ensemble worthy of being featured among exceptional orchestras.” On this tour, finally, Canadians will get to hear the best orchestral music coming out of Hong Kong. The HK Sinfonietta plays both Western classical music and Chinese orchestral repertoire, part of the refreshing vision of music director and conductor Yip Wing-sie. Hear her introduce their performance on YouTube

With this tour, Yip has harnessed some dynamic new talent: rising young violinist Tianwa Yang – a former child prodigy who The Washington Post praises for her “rapid-fire pizzicatos” and “infectious brio” – is soloist for Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor.  Tianwa Yang talks about Prokofiev and working with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta on YouTube.

The concert will also include the premiere of a dramatic new work by Chan Hing-yan (b. 1963) for sheng (Chinese “mouth organ”) and orchestra. ’Twas the Thawing Wind features Loo Sze-wang, recognized as the foremost sheng player of his generation. The audience will experience the unique sound of this Chinese instrument alongside a Western orchestra. Conductor Yip explains, "…unlike other Chinese traditional instruments, the Sheng is tuned like a western instrument, so its sound can blend into the symphony, while also standing out at times."

I’m going to be in my seat Monday night at Maison Symphonique to share in the exoticism and excitement of this experience.  Please join us!

-Christopher Deacon, Managing Director NAC Orchestra

Hong Kong Sinfonietta (www.facebook.com/hongkongsinfonietta)
Monday, October 8th  8PM, Maison Symphonique in Montreal
Tickets are still available and start at $42 ($10 for students)
Read more in the Vancouver Sun