Hong Kong Professional Winds
City Hall Concert Hall
A new ensemble was launched at the weekend showing off local talent in woodwind and brass instruments. At its inaugural concert, the 44-strong Hong Kong Professional Winds performed a programme of popular symphonic works.
"Three-quarters of these players on stage were trained overseas and are experts in their own right," Yip Wai-hong, the group's music director, told the audience, a full house.
"I hope the new band will serve as a platform for them to display their artistic skills," he said.
The aim of nurturing young talent was borne out by resident conductor Kelvin Ngai Lung-shing, a trumpet player trained at Peabody Conservatory in the United States, who led the group in Shostakovich's Festive Overture. With extensive wind and brass passages in the original score, the wind-brass version differed little, though the absence of bass strings was felt despite the addition of two cellos and double basses. The weighty full forte in the coda was a sound to behold.
It was a rare treat to hear Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No2 accompanied by a wind-brass ensemble. The smaller sound matched well the meticulous playing of Shen Wenyu, a former prodigy based in Beijing.
In Gershwin's famous hit Summertime and Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy, harmonica player Gordon Lee Chun-lok, a third-year Institute of Education student, showed why he was privileged to have performed at Carnegie Hall in New York.
But the evening would be best remembered by its big band music arranged from Bernstein's West Side Story. The cor anglais in Somewhere was as tantalising as the stylish brass and percussion in Mambo. The latter was one of three encores to send home the appreciative crowd.