Performances for the whole family to enjoy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2007, 12:00am

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department kicks off the festive season with the Cheers! Series, a family-friendly programme of performances, next Friday.

In Yoshiya Yamamoto's world of puppets, where goblins crawl out from the dark and fairies fly across the stage, he creates the illusion of real living creatures.

In Excerpts from Silent Poems and Where Spirits and Fairies Dwell, Yamamoto, the founder of puppetry company Kawasemi-za, presents a collection of short tales based on Japanese legends and folk myths.

Founded in 1982, the award-winning theatre company from Tokyo has toured worldwide, visiting South Korea, Iran, Hungary, Canada and Spain. Without words, and using only folk songs, music and voices on stage, writer-puppeteers Yamamoto and Izumi Masumara skilfully express emotion and meaning through brightly coloured and elaborate decorated marionettes of weasels, foxes, catfish and a snow wolf.

The City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong will give Hong Kong audiences a pre-Italian tour concert of contemporary Chinese music with an East meets West twist. In Spirit of Two Strings the orchestra, established in 1999, will showcase two Hong Kong soloists - Hsin Hsiao-hung, principle erhu musician of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, and violinist Ho Hong-ying.

The forthcoming concerts in Italy mark the first time a chamber orchestra from Hong Kong has toured Europe and performed at a major Italian festival. Guest conductor Andrew Massey, who has worked with the Cleveland Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, leads a programme of works by Mao Yuan, Situ Gang and Tan Dun.

A highlight of the concert features Shanghainese composer Situ Gang's double concerto for erhu, violin and strings, which combines the characteristics of the western violin with the sounds of the erhu. The City Chamber Orchestra has also commissioned 81-year-old Beijing composer Mao Yuan to write a new arrangement of his popular Dance of the Yao People and Joy of Spring.

Another festive music programme showcases A Christmas with Mendelssohn: Hymn of Praise presented by Hong Kong's largest and most active choir, the Hong Kong Oratorio Society.

The grand production involves hundreds of performers, musicians and singers with three conductors, three soloists, three choirs, and accompanied by the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, the Hand Chimes Team of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the Lee Shau Kee Primary School and organist Wong Kin-yu.

Angela Yeung, director of the music programme at the University of San Diego, conducts soloists Rao Lan (soprano), Phoebe Tam (mezzo-soprano) and Sam Kan (tenor) in works including Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise, Brahms' Liebeslieder, and Jade Yau's world premiere Turkey Rivalry.