Hong Kong’s Finest: HK Phil to Save Little Henry
The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is justly regarded as one of the most distinguished in the world, a source of civic pride for Hong Kong, perhaps the only institution that brings people together, unanimously considered as the Hong Kong’s finest. Under the baton of world class conductors David Atherton, Edo de Waart and now Jaap van Zweden, the HK Phil has gone from strength to strength, providing unremitting joy to music lovers, but also reaching out to the community. Again this week they come to defend a good cause, but this is rather an occasion for the Hong Kong public to stand behind our orchestra: to save little Henry.
Little Henry is a two-years-old boy who suffers eye cancer. He has already lost one eye. To save his other eye he has to undergo a difficult an expensive treatment in the United States. Henry is the son of a HK Phil violist. Her colleagues and titular conductor, Jaap van Zweden, want to support little Henry with a fundraising concert tomorrow Thursday, 15 January 2015 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. This concert is presented by the Y.S. Liu Foundation and donations can also be made towards this cause. More information here.
I shall never forget the HK Phil reopening concert during the last days of the SARS outbreak in the spring of 2003, the best Beethoven’s Triple Piano Concerto I have ever heard. And it was like a prelude announcing those dramatic days were over, a new overture. The concert hall was not full, the originally invited stellar figures could not dare to come, and the task was taken over by our brave local musicians under long-standing conductor David Atherton: Shirley Ip, piano; Richard Bumping, cello; and Wong Sze-hang, violin, all together taking the orchestra to new heights. The three musicians are still with the orchestra. That concert makes me reflect on the value of music, on music beyond music.
Last Saturday, 10 January 2015, I attended another memorable concert by the HK Phil. All-time favourite compositions, Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and the stellar Third Piano Concerto by Rachmaninov, the young promise Behzod Abduraimov at the piano. I have studied (dropped) and loved music from a young age. Music means so much to me but I rarely talk about it, less of all, write about it. I always thought that the measure of good writing would be writing about music, that I would be a good writer if I were able to express what I feel when a listen to a piece of music, or more difficult still, if I knew how to put music into words. That moment seems far away and I rather don’t try.
I would prefer to ask the reader what cross your mind when you listen great music at home or live at the concert hall. Many things for me, a fabulous collection of thoughts and emotions, from the banal to the whimsical, from romantic to spiritual musings, to mere distractions on what to do next. I don’t exaggerate to say that good music is a celebration of life, of being alive. As I grow older, it is inevitable that some other performances on record or live come to mind in comparison. That historic RCA complete recordings with Rachmaninov himself at the piano, or another by Horowitz of defective sound, or the movie Shine about the eccentric Australian pianist David Helfgott, whom I saw performing live as well. And where I was when I was playing that vinyl recording with the distinctive yellow cartouche of Deutsche Gramophone. Who I was then?