Carrie Lam

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam performs with Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra

Chief secretary opens season and joins ensemble for an impressive performance on the guzheng

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 September, 2012, 3:08am


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Only recently she was shedding tears on television, but Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was all smiles at her latest public appearance, when she took to the stage in an impromptu performance on the guzheng, or Chinese plucked zither.

Lam, who admitted in a Cable TV interview that it had been tough going for her over the past month - amid pressure over the national education row, an influx of mainland visitors, parallel traders and the ongoing housing crisis - seemed in good form.

Officiating at the opening of the 35th season of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra on Friday evening, Lam joined the 85-member ensemble to perform an excerpt from Ode to Water, the concert's feature work.

Led by the orchestra's artistic director Yan Huichang, the audience joined in by waving their programmes, to create the effect of waves to match the music, especially the guzheng chords depicting the water flow.

"We appreciate the chief secretary's support by putting aside her busy schedule to be with us," said Yan.

"Few officials stay for the entire concert, but Ms Lam is one of those few, setting a fine example on respect for arts and performers," the maestro said.

Orchestra CEO Celina Chin said it was wonderful for a high-level official to perform with the orchestra and the audience.

"We want to play up the idea that music is for everyone in Hong Kong, and that the orchestra belongs to the community," she said."Conveying this through a musical instrument is so much more direct than, say, through an official speech."

The brief excerpt was taken from the first of six acts of Ode to Water, an ambitious multi-media work by local composer Mui Kwong-chiu that fuses music with dance, video, sound effects, stage design, calligraphy, painting, and poem recitation in one organic whole.

"It took me more than a year to work on this 75-minute piece, and it requires tremendous teamwork with the orchestra and other artists and professionals to make it possible," said Mui. He was pleased with the premiere, "except perhaps for a few technical fine-tuning details".

The mega work started with the bass strings and drums synchronising with the video portraying the dawn of time and the birth of water. In the sunset scene, Tam Po-shek, a multi-talented artist, awed the audience with live calligraphy and painting depicting colourful evening clouds, and wild ducks in Act 2.

Act 3, The Waterfall, featured tantalising guqin and guzheng, both zithers, which formed a trio with Tam on the vertical flute. The ensuing pas de deux by the Hong Kong Dance Company soloists on the Moon theme in Act 4, and the deafening lightning blitz and the serene polar light in the last two acts, displayed an array of innovative effects.

The piece ended on a coda with Tam reciting a famous Tang poem from the balcony, fading out with the verse "go up another flight of stairs", which he certainly did.