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De Waart and HKPO in triumphant debut at Xinghai Concert Hall, Guangzhou

1 February, 2008

[Hong Kong - 1 February, 2008] Havoc on China’s railway system could not prevent the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra from making its debut last night at the Xinghai Concert Hall in Guangzhou. 80 musicians, wrapped up against the cold as the temperature plummeted, had gathered on the platform of Hunghom Station on Wednesday night to begin their journey to Guangzhou in readiness for Thursday morning’s final rehearsal, only to be greeted with the news that the train was cancelled. A flurry of phone calls between our Orchestra’s tour manager and the Xinghai Concert Hall, and some fast work by railway staff eventually got the Orchestra and all their instruments (including 10 cellos in bulky cases) squeezed into every last available seat on a train two hours later.

The Orchestra and Chief Conductor Edo de Waart conductor were greeted by a full house for last night’s concert and the audience erupted into rhythmic applause the moment Beethoven’s exuberant Fourth Symphony reached its breathless conclusion. While Beethoven put the Orchestra’s crispness, refinement and finesse on show, the concert opened with Respighi’s Suite for Strings and Organ in which the luxuriant richness of the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s 60-strong string section exchanged volleys with Xinghai’s imposing Grand Organ.

The young Chinese guitarist Yang Xuefei warmed the hearts of the audience on the coldest night of the winter with Rodrigo’s exotic and touching Concierto de Aranjuez. After the concert, excited audience members queued up in line for autographs with both the guitarist and the Maestro.

Mr Zhao Yi Min, Assistant Director of Radio Guangdong and well-known Classical music programme host, commented after last night’s concert: “Under Edo de Waart’s direction, the Hong Kong Philharmonic possesses the spirit and essence of a first-rate European Orchestra. The musicians’ technique, the balance of dynamics and tone colour are all excellent. This debut at the Xinghai Concert Hall is one of the most remarkable concerts in the history of this hall.”

“We were attracted to come to Guangzhou because it has a wonderful hall, and a knowledgeable and appreciative audience,” said Edo de Waart. “If I were put on a desert island, I would definitely take all of Beethoven’s symphonies with me. To this day Beethoven remains extremely difficult to play well, and many major orchestras do not play Beethoven so much anymore… The Hong Kong Philharmonic is on its way to becoming a very fine ‘Beethoven’ orchestra.”

The Orchestra has returned to Hong Kong and will perform the same programme tonight and tomorrow night at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. The programme is the last in a month-long series in which outstanding Chinese soloists such as Wang Jian, Huang Mengla and Yundi Li have collaborated with de Waart and Hong Kong Philharmonic. Yang Xuefei’s concerts are part of the Swire New Generation Series.

Hong Kong Philharmonic’s Guangzhou tour is sponsored by Swire Properties. Swire is the Principal Patron of the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

Programme Details:

Swire New Generation: Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto
1 & 2 / 2 / 2008 (Friday and Saturday) HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall 8 PM
HK$250, $200, $150, $100
Available at URBTIX outlets
URBTIX website: www.urbtix.hk
Reservations: 2734 9009
Credit Card booking: 2111 5999
Programme Enquiries: 2721 2030

Guangzhou Tour
31/1/2008 (Thursday)
8 PM
Xinghai Concert Hall, Guangzhou
RMB680, 480, 280, 180, 100
Enquiry No: (86) 20-87353869
Programme Information: www.concerthall.com.cn
Ticket Booking Website: www.gdwhp.com

Performers
Edo de Waart conductor
Yang Xuefei guitar

Programme
Respighi Suite for Organ and Strings
Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez
Beethoven Symphony No.4

Tour Sponsor: Swire Properties

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ABOUT THE HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Hailed as “one of Asia's top orchestras”, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) is led by the internationally renowned Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Edo de Waart. Enriching Hong Kong’s cultural life for over a century, the Orchestra has grown into a formidable ensemble of Chinese and international talents in the last three decades, attracting world-class artists to perform on the same stage. In April 2006, The Swire Group Charitable Trust became the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s Principal Patron, committing HK$36 million over three years to enable Maestro de Waart’s artistic vision for the Orchestra to be realized. HKPO annually touches the lives of 200,000 music lovers through more than 150 performances, including a series of outreach activities including the city’s largest outdoor symphonic concert in Happy Valley, Swire Symphony under the Stars. Please visit www.hkpo.com for more information about the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is financially supported by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

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