22 October 2019 - 23 Tishri 5780 - כ"ג תשרי ה' אלפים תש"פ
Arts & Culture
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra announces a star-studded new season E-mail

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra has announced its new season programmes for 2019/20 which will start this September.

The new programme will feature an impressive 50+ guest artists and 16 premieres and some new commissions. The new season promises to be an excellent multi-fold lineup of musical presentations to appeal to a wider audience of classical music lovers.

Some of the highlights include an ode to Beethoven on the 250th anniversary of his birth. In commemoration, the Philharmonic will complete cycles of Beethoven’s symphonies and concertos under the baton of Maestro Director Jaap van Zweden, together with pianists Rudolf Buchbinder, Rachel Cheung, Lang Lang, Víkingur Ólafsson, and Nobuyuki Tsujii, the Philharmonic will present four programmes over the next 12 months.

To kick off the 46th season opener, 2015 Chopin Piano Competition Prize Winner Seong-Jin Cho joins Jaap van Zweden in Rachmaninov’s heart-wrenching “Piano Concerto no. 2”. Together with the jubilant optimism of Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Prelude to Act I” and the profound tragedy of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, this evening promises a truly emotionally charged musical experience on 6–7 September.

A concert showcasing the remarkable talent of piano duet siblings The Labèque Sisters has them performing Philip Glass’ tailor-made work “Concerto for Two Pianos”. In the same programme, the HK Philharmonic shall present a new commission by Hong Kong composer Chan Kai-young in November.

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64th Eurovision Song Contest held in Tel-Aviv goes off with little fuss E-mail

Despite protests from groups across the political spectrum who promised disturbance and heavy campaigning, the Eurovision Song Contest stood mostly unaffected.

As the winners of last year’s contest, this year’s finale gave Israel a chance to showcase its credentials as a culturally progressive nation. The Netherlands won the 64th iteration of the Contest, held at the Tel-Aviv Expo from 14 to 18 May, which featured a performance from Madonna, plenty of glitz, and some political controversy as pro-Palestinian activists called for a boycott.

The extravaganza unfolded largely politics-free, though two incidents drew attention away from the songs and toward Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian government.

The Eurovision organisers take great care to note that the event, viewed by millions globally, is intended to be apolitical. However, local media showed images of two of Madonna’s dancers walking hand in hand, side-by-side, revealing Israeli and Palestinian flags displayed across their backs during her performancean apparent call for unity between the two sides. Icelandic punk band Hatari, meanwhile, held scarves with Palestinian flags aloft whilst their results were being announced.

Madonna stole much of the limelight with her two-song performance, including her 1989 hit, Like A Prayer. She had earlier said she was determined to perform at the finals, but her participation brought protests from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

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Gil Shaham to play Dvořák with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra as part of Asian tour E-mail

One of the most admired classical violinists of the modern era, American-Israeli artist Gil Shaham will be making a special trip to Hong Kong in June to perform for two nights with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO).

One of the most anticipated highlights of the monthly calendar, Shaham will be playing pieces from Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák.

The conductor of this unique recital will be Shanghai-born Yu Long, a highly acclaimed conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Musical Director of the China Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the principal guest conductor of the HKPO.

A free pre-concert talk is to be organised before the performances, which will take place at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall on 21-22 June.

Shaham was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1971. He later moved with his parents to Israel, where he began violin studies with Samuel Bernstein of the Rubin Academy of Music at the age of seven. His talent was clear, and soon he was receiving annual scholarships from the AmericaIsrael Cultural Foundation.

In 1981, he made debuts with the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. The following year, he went on to win first prize in Israel’s Claremont Competition. He was then awarded a scholarship to prestigious American performing arts school, Juilliard, and went on to continue his studies at Columbia University.

The Grammy Awardwinner, also named Musical America’s ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’, is coveted around the world for concerto appearances alongside leading orchestras and conductors, and regularly gives recitals or appears in ensembles at the most prestigious festivals.

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