The Snowman and The Bear in Concert

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2006, 12:00am

The Snowman and The Bear in Concert

City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong

City Hall Concert Hall

Reviewed: Dec 10

The City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong played to a packed house at the afternoon performance of this children's Christmas concert, during which many adults in the audience were quite clearly enjoying a second childhood.

Originating from storybooks by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman and The Bear are brought to life in projected animations and given a further dimension by Howard Blake's orchestral soundtracks, played live by the orchestra. Adding narration verges on repetition, but it allowed Harry Wong and Jonathan Douglas to cement the whole with an avuncular atmosphere.

Wong captivated the audience in an amusing warm-up to The Bear with help from a hand-puppet. The thick orchestral scoring to the film obscured a number of his lines, but the audience remained transported by young Tilly's adventures with an imaginary polar bear.

The Snowman enjoyed lighter scoring, but Douglas didn't always get his neck turns to the screen in sync with the stand mike, resulting in a number of voice tail-offs. In both works, however, it was the contribution of the 11-year-old solo singers that created as much magic as anything going on around them.

Chu Pui-ying and Joshua Davy sang respectively in The Bear (Somewhere a Star Shines for Everyone) and The Snowman (Walking in the Air). Their pure vocal quality was utterly charming and their stage presence (maintaining serene half-smiles for long periods when not singing) demonstrated professionalism beyond their years.

The orchestra's excellent playing was directed by Richard Honner.