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"AIG Lunchtime Harmonies" feature HKPO's New Concertmaster

2006-10-23

Hong Kong, 23 October 2006 – American International Group, Inc. (AIG) today launched another series of free lunchtime concerts at the magnificent Sky Lobby of AIG Tower, following the immense success of last year's week-long classical concerts. 

This year's series, once again featuring the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) – Asia's leading orchestra – performing music written by composers from the 16th to 20th century.  On Friday, October 27, the last day of the series, the HKPO's newly appointed Concertmaster John Harding, together with Swire First Associate Concertmaster Leung Kin Fung, will perform Bach's Double Violin Concerto with two antique violins, one of which is a 300-year-old Stradivari that is worth US$4.5 million.

The concerts also mark the first time that Mr Harding, a world-class musician with a wide-ranging musical career, leads the Orchestra as the conductor at a public concert since his joining the HKPO in September.

AIG's Senior Vice Chairman, Edmund Tse, said, "AIG has a history in Hong Kong going back over 75 years and has long been involved in raising the profile of the arts in this city. AIG Lunchtime Harmonies allows us to meld the worlds of business and the arts, giving the public a chance to enjoy the inspiring experience of a live orchestra at the home of our Asian headquarters, AIG Tower. As Asia's leading orchestra, the HKPO is our natural partner in this endeavour."

The AIG Lunchtime Harmonies last year attracted over 2,000 people into the magnificent Sky Lobby of the AIG Tower, marking the first free concerts in a commercial building at the city heart of Hong Kong. 

The daily programme, running from 1 pm to 1:40 pm, has been chosen to coincide with the standard office lunch hour, making classical music more accessible to the public, while also providing an enjoyable break to the business community in Central.  The stunning Sky Lobby with dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the tranquil Chater Garden provides the perfect backdrop for the performances.

Mr Harding, an internationally renowned violinist who has held such important positions as Co-concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra prior to his appointment at HKPO, has personally designed the programme for the AIG Lunchtime Harmonies.

"In these lunchtime concerts I have tried to balance the familiar with the unfamiliar. The Bach double violin concerto and Mozart's Clarinet Quintet will be familiar, but Copland's wonderful ballet score Appalachian Spring in its original orchestration will undoubtedly be a new confection for some. The programmes I have chosen represent just a tiny proportion of some of the wonderful music written for chamber orchestra, and are aimed to please rather than "challenge" the listener with new or experimental music," said Mr Harding.

The daily programme will comprise two to four classical pieces. Today's concert featured music for brass and woodwind instruments, while the other four of the week will showcase various orchestral works from Bach to Copland.

ABOUT AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP, INC.

American International Group, Inc. (AIG), world leaders in insurance and financial services, is the leading international insurance organization with operations in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions. AIG companies serve commercial, institutional and individual customers through the most extensive worldwide property-casualty and life insurance networks of any insurer. In addition, AIG companies are leading providers of retirement services, financial services and asset management around the world. AIG's common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the stock exchanges in London, Paris, Switzerland and Tokyo.

ABOUT THE HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is rapidly emerging as Asia's leading orchestra, since internationally renowned Edo de Waart joined as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor in the 2004/05 Season. Throughout the last three decades, the Orchestra has grown into a formidable ensemble of Chinese and international talents, attracting world-class artists to perform on the same stage. It gives over a hundred performances annually, many of which are highly anticipated events in the city's cultural calendar. The Hong Kong Philharmonic reaches out to the community with such diverse activities as a comprehensive music-in-education programme for primary and secondary school students, performances at university campuses, an annual project with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts to help nurture aspiring professionals, free pre-concert talks that provides in-depth knowledge of music and musicians and an open-air concert that gives the public free access to classical music.

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is subvented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

SWIRE is the Principal Patron of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.


For further information, please contact:

Bonnie Wu
Corporate Communications Department
American International Companies
Tel : 2832 1471
Fax: 2834 1753
Email : bonnie-mw.wu@aig.com

Esther Chan
Corporate Communications Department
American International Companies
Tel : 2832 1854
Fax: 2834 1753
Email : esther-wf.chan@aig.com

Ms. Heidi Chik
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
Tel: 2721 1481
Email: heidi.chik@hkpo.com