Hong Kong Philharmonic New Year Gala Cultural Centre Concert Hall Last performance tomorrow I have never seen an orchestral performance so comprehensively hijacked by a corporate sponsor as the first of the philharmonic's three New Year gala concerts. Far from being content with the traditional credits in the programme, the K.Wah Group actually sent on an MC to begin the evening, as though this were a corporate hospitality event. Worse yet, the last notes of the Blue Danube had scarcely died away before the same obnoxious individual cut short the applause by striding back out to announce that K. Wah's chairman would now present 'souvenirs' to conductor Edo de Waart and soprano Amelia Farrugia. De Waart looked astonished at this presumption, and since the unwanted compere had indicated that the concert was over, the orchestra's artistic director found himself obliged to hastily signal the orchestra into the encore, before too many people left. All this was doubly a pity because the philharmonic was in cracking form. A highlight of the first half was Farrugia's sparkling rendition of Mein Herr Marquis from Die Fledermaus, before a fine performance from the orchestra of Richard Strauss' Rosenkavalier Suite. After Johann Strauss' Egyptian March Waltz, which opened the second half of the concert, de Waart announced an addition to the programme, and the orchestra played the Dance of the Seven Veils from Richard Strauss' Salome. This was easily the highlight of the night, although that takes nothing away from Farrugia's two solos during the second half of the concert, particularly Franz Lehar's Vilja Song from The Merry Widow.