HK Phil cancels concert after sudden death of operations manager

Performance is called off at the last minute after operations manager dies of heart attack at 39

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 4:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 4:29am

The sudden death of a respected operations manager has forced the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra to cancel a concert just minutes before show time.

Ambrose Yeung, personnel manager for the city's largest symphony orchestra, died of a heart attack on Wednesday shortly after a badminton game with two musicians following morning rehearsals.

"He felt uncomfortable after the game, but nevertheless drove himself to see the family doctor, which is when he passed out at a red light," Y.S. Liu, the orchestra's board chairman, said.

An ambulance arrived at the scene but was too late to resuscitate Yeung.

He was 39, and is survived by his wife, Ada Lai.

An official press release from the orchestra said Yeung "made the HK Phil his life, bringing a heart full of sunshine and good humour to his work. He made the musicians' cares and concerns his own".

Liu said: "Ambrose joined us in 1998, and was endearing to everyone ... The sudden loss was just too much for the concert to go ahead." He said the news reached them just an hour before the concert was due to start at 8pm, causing many people to break down in tears backstage.

"It [would have been] particularly hard to do Mahler's fourth symphony, a work about heavenly bliss," he said.

The orchestra took to the stage for the scheduled pre-concert practice session at 7pm. Chief executive Michael Macleod told the musicians a discussion would be held on whether the concert should go on.

"The chairman, music director Jaap van Zweden and I held a backstage meeting with the players' committee and we decided to cancel the concert. That was just 30 minutes before. We then went on stage to address the audience regarding the decision," Macleod said.

Last night, a sell-out performance by the orchestra was dedicated to Yeung's memory.