Monkey King Goes on Summer Holiday - Tales from Journey to the West Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Concert Hall Hong Kong Cultural Centre Reviewed: July 16 The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (HKCO) have highlighted their versatility once more. For this International Arts Carnival programme, artistic director Yan Huichang has included a mixture of: short Chinese classical pieces; folk tunes from Xinjiang, Yunnan and Anhui; contemporary compositions; and even the theme from the Ultraman Tiga television series. The ensemble played each with equal enthusiasm. Such diverse programming - which often blends the traditional with the popular - has won the HKCO a growing following of all ages. So it's no surprise that the orchestra is a regular of this annual children's arts festival. Monkey King Goes on Summer Holiday featured conductor Chen Ning-chi (who composed all the music in the second half), erhu player Shao Lin and children's TV host Purple Lee. The evening started with the traditional: a medley of Chinese classics arranged by Chen that included Jasmine, a Jiangsu folk tune, and The Flower Drums of Fang Yang from Anhui. These were well-known to the grown-ups, but you could hear the youngsters fidgeting throughout. Then came the biggest patience test for the children: two orchestral pieces featuring Shao and one more medley. Gu Guanren's Dastan Intermezzo No1 and Wang Jianmin's Scenes of Tianshan are compositions with great range. They're dance music from the minorities region of Xinjiang, and Shao played the ajik (an instrument of the Uyghur people) with sensitivity and skill. That was followed by a slightly rushed performance of four popular folksongs arranged by Gu. The atmosphere lifted after intermission as we arrived at the highlight: Tales from Journey to the West. Lee performed well as the narrator, despite a couple of muddles over the characters. Soprano suona players Guo Yazhi and Kot Kai-lik stood out with their animated portrayal of the Monkey King, and the HKCO played the three engaging episodes without missing a beat.