Ode to Beethoven
Hong Kong Sinfonietta
City Hall Concert Hall
Tomorrow and Sat, 8pm
The Hong Kong Sinfonietta concludes its Beethoven Cycle with the German composer's first and last symphonies: No1 in C (Op. 21) and No 9 in D minor (Op. 125), Choral, which has the famous Ode to Joy tune in its final movement.
It is also a favourite of Jimmy Chan Foon-sheung, who will direct the Opera Hong Kong Chorus for this concert. 'Ode to Joy is full of life,' he says. 'To listen to the singing is a rousing experience. There is such tension in the notes, they give this spirited piece a sense of intensity.'
Chan adds that, like many great compositions, this piece is based on a simple tune. He says: 'Beethoven then built the rest from it, turning it into an amazing work full of exuberant joy and feeling.'
On the conductor's podium will be the sinfonietta's music director, Yip Wing-sie, and joining the Opera Hong Kong Chorus in the last movement of Symphony No 9 will be soprano Erika Wueschner, mezzo-soprano Ning Liang, tenor Richard Crawley and bass-baritone Matthew Burns.
Chan says his biggest challenge is to get the 120-member chorus, an amateur group, up to a high standard: 'The orchestra is professional and we have world-class singers coming in for the concert, so that's the pressure.'
He says it's been hard to get the full chorus to rehearse because everyone has a busy work schedule and it is impossible to get everyone together for full rehearsals maybe until the final two days. But they have managed to have at least eight rehearsals before tomorrow's concert, 'which is not too bad because the work is not very long', Chan says.
'But that's how we have always operated,' he says, 'because we are not a professional troupe, so members take turns in attending rehearsals and everyone tries to be as accommodating as possible.'
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