THE HONG KONG Sinfonietta is a relatively 'young' orchestra, in the sense that the average age of its musicians is 28 years. And as a young ensemble, it cherishes the opportunity to share the stage with high-calibre musicians with years of concert hall experience behind them. Indeed, performing with distinguished international artists is an essential part of the orchestra's growth. Hong Kong Sinfonietta music director and conductor Yip Wing-sie said musicians should have a 'sense of style', and style was something they learnt from the visiting soloists and conductors. The orchestra has been a champion of local talent since its inception in 1990. Its main mission is to give talented musicians with a classical training a chance to make music, perform with others and share the artistic experience. Yip said Hong Kong had an abundance of music talent, people with a solid music education and training who have even reached professional standards in performance. Such people should have the chance to perform before audiences in their home country, she said. 'Some of our players have had the opportunity to study overseas, and they have been exposed to good musicians. But some have never been outside Hong Kong,' the conductor said. By inviting internationally known musicians as guest artists, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta gives its musicians valuable exposure; each concert experience represents part of a learning curve. Because of their tight schedules, visiting musicians rarely spend more than a couple of days in each country or city on their concert itinerary. Rehearsals are squeezed into the limited time available. For the gala concert with violinist Pinchas Zukerman, the Sinfonietta musicians will have just two days to rehearse with the maestro. During those intense hours with the soloists, the young players learn a great deal about musicianship and interpretation. 'Seeing and hearing another artist perform a work can throw a completely new light on it,' Yip said. The Hong Kong Sinfonietta performs regularly with guest conductors and soloists from Europe, North America, the mainland and Taiwan. Next month, Hong Kong violinist Ivan Chan, now living in the United States, will return to the city to perform in a concert titled 'Know Your Mozart Violin Concertos'. The concert is part of a concert series, 'Know Your Mozart', aimed at helping the public to cultivate a taste for classical music and gain knowledge on the subject. There are also educational programmes for children and their parents. Children have a prominent place in the Hong Kong Sinfonietta's endeavours, In July, the orchestra will collaborate with the creators of the popular TV animation character McDull to introduce concert-going etiquette to children aged three to five. Another educational programme, for eight- to 12-year-olds, scheduled for August, will have conductor Jason Lai teaming up with theatre veteran and educator Lynn Yau. They will demonstrate English story-telling through words and music.