The Hong Kong Sinfonietta will headline the Hong Kong Arts Festival's local classical music programme next year, ending a monopoly held by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra for nearly 20 years. This is the first time the Sinfonietta has been invited to participate in Hong Kong's most high-profile cultural event. At the festival's launch yesterday, organisers announced that the Sinfonietta will present a programme entitled The Creation of the World, which will include the world premiere of a commissioned work by local composer Aenon Loo. It will be led by artistic director Yip Wing-sie, the former resident conductor for the Philharmonic. The Hong Kong Philharmonic, beleaguered by reports of conflict between the players and the musical director, Samuel Wong, will reportedly be on tour during the arts festival season, from February to March. Since its incorporation in 1974, the orchestra has been a staple at the arts festival. But festival organisers say they are still in discussion with the Philharmonic about its future participation. 'We are not replacing the Philharmonic with the Hong kong Sinfonietta - there was a scheduling problem with the Phil and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta approached us with a very good programme idea,' said Grace Lang, director of programming for the arts festival. 'Many artists in Hong Kong participate off and on with the festival.' However, she said the Sinfonietta was rising in standards and profile. 'It's good that there will be some competition,' Ms Lang said. 'The Phil has been the only professional orchestra in Hong Kong for a long time, but now there is a choice.' Several weeks ago, the Hong Kong Philharmonic announced that its contract with Samuel Wong will not be renewed. The Hong Kong Arts Festival will be held from February 14 to March 17.