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Arts Preview: HK Philharmonic showcasing Strauss family legacy to welcome in 2014

Sam Olluver

 

HK PHILHARMONIC CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR'S EVE CONCERTS
Hong Kong Cultural Centre

 

If you were among the 15,000 people who witnessed Symphony Under the Stars, the Hong Kong Philharmonic's recent outdoor performance at the New Central Harbourfront, you will know that versatility is one of the orchestra's strengths, enabling them to switch between a variety of styles with panache. That forté will again be on parade for the orchestra's final two concerts of the year that feature an international hamper of music for Christmas and a traditional, Strauss-laden event for New Year's Eve.

The programme taking the audience into 2014 focuses on the legacy of the Strauss family, particularly the three sons of its patriarch, Johann Strauss the Elder: waltzes, polkas and quadrilles by Johann II, Josef and Eduard occupy most of the programme. Members of the Strauss clan dominated Vienna's glittering social music scene during the second half of the 19th century, and the enduring popularity of their dance music shows no sign of abating. Perennial favourites such as the Champagne Polka, Masked Ball Quadrille and The Blue Danube will complement Franz von Suppé's popular overture Light Cavalry and Richard Wagner's rambunctious Prelude to Act III from his opera Lohengrin.

The conductor will be Johannes Wildner, principal guest conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra. Raff Wilson, the philharmonic's director of artistic planning, says that Wildner has become a popular choice for the HK Phil, having directed the orchestra on many occasions over the past five years.

"We're especially happy to welcome him for our New Year's Eve concert because he is a native of Austria and was for many years a member of the Vienna Philharmonic, so he is completely at home among these wonderful waltzes," says Wilson.

The Christmas concerts take place on December 23 and 24. With the theme of Christmas Around the World, the programme includes seasonal music from the US, Australia, the Netherlands and Russia, in addition to all the traditional favourites.

"We're delighted to welcome back the wonderful Hong Kong Children's Chorus for the event, as well as our conductor Peter Biloen, mezzo-soprano soloist Tania Kross and guest appearances by Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, plus one of Santa's elves. And there will be a chance to sing along with the HK Phil to all the best Yuletide music," says Wilson.

48hours@scmp.com

 

Christmas Around the World, December 23 and 24, 8pm, HK$140-HK$400; Viennese Treats, December 30 and 31, 8pm, HK$160-$420, Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Tsim Sha Tsui, Urbtix. Inquiries: 2111 5999

 

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