Classical treat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2006, 12:00am

Polish pianist and composer Frederic Chopin once said: 'Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, except, possibly, two.'

If this is the case, five guitars should produce an exquisite sound. Hong Kong people will have the chance to witness this on Friday at the Science Museum.

Guitarist Stephen Chau Kai-leung and his friends will stage a classical guitar concert at 7.30pm in the museum lecture hall.

'When Hong Kong people think about guitar music, only pop or rock'n'roll comes to mind,' said Chau, who has been playing the guitar for more than 30 years.

'I hope the concert will show them that there are many other styles of guitar music.'

Muse Guitar Ensemble Concert will include music of different styles. Chau and four members of his ensemble will use the classical guitar, steel string guitar, requinto guitar and bass guitar.

The group will play a variety of music, from traditional African tunes to a modern piece composed by a tango musician.

'Classical guitar music has a home-grown flavour,' said Chau.

Like most young people who started playing music in the 70s, Chau first started with folk music and rock'n'roll .

'Whenever I was unhappy, I picked up the guitar and played. The bad feelings would go away.'

But by the 80s, Chau had decided to concentrate on learning classical guitar music.

'Classical guitar music has a rich tradition. A musician can build on that tradition and create variations, rather than creating music out of nothing.

'I feel that I have more creative space and options with classical guitar music.'

Chau won the first prize at the Hong Kong Guitar Festival (Classical Section) in 1982.

He then studied guitar performance at the Hong Kong Music Institute and received a scholarship to take part in the Musica en Compostela, a music festival in Spain.

He later studied under renowned guitarists and composers such as Manuel Barrueco and Leo Brouwer at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Musica in Madrid.

In 2001, he formed the Muse Guitar Ensemble so that classical guitarists could have more opportunities to perform live together.

'I think less than 10 classical guitarists in Hong Kong want to perform live.'

Chau urged young people who enjoy music to learn to play the classical guitar.

'It doesn't matter whether you want to play rock, pop or jazz music, you need to have a solid foundation of musical skills.

'Playing classical guitar is the best way to hone your skills.'

Chau emphasised that classical guitar music is timeless and enjoyable - if you are willing to give it a chance.

'When I first started classical guitar, I didn't like some of the pieces.

'But the more I experience life, the more I enjoy classical guitar music,' said Chau.

'Good music shouldn't just give you instant pleasure. The more you listen to classical guitar, the more you will love it.'

Tickets cost $100 and $80. Call Urbtix on 2734 9009 for reservations.