Christopher Halls

Christopher Halls

Christopher Halls had an extensive career as a professional freelance violinist in Europe, the US and in his native Australia. He is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He has been writing classical music reviews for the South China Morning Post since 2017.

Latest from Christopher Halls

Review | Bamberg Symphony Orchestra concerts for Hong Kong Arts Festival are a showcase of exceptional playing

The German regional orchestra deliver polished, passionate performances of works by Smetana, Bruckner and Mahler under the baton of chief conductor Jakub Hrusa.

The German regional orchestra deliver polished, passionate performances of works by Smetana, Bruckner and Mahler under the baton of chief conductor Jakub Hrusa.

27 Mar 2022 - 6:15PM
Review | Constant clapping of Hong Kong audience interrupts brilliant Mozart Clarinet Concerto performance by Gilad Harel and Hong Kong Sinfonietta

Mozart’s much-loved Clarinet Concerto in A major was the highlight of the October 23 concert by the Hong Kong orchestra, and soloist Gilad Harel enthralled a full house – who responded overenthusiastically.

Mozart’s much-loved Clarinet Concerto in A major was the highlight of the October 23 concert by the Hong Kong orchestra, and soloist Gilad Harel enthralled a full house – who responded overenthusiastically.

27 Oct 2021 - 11:20AM
Review | Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet For the End of Time - Hong Kong musicians overcome initial hesitancy to give commendable performance

Despite a typhoon warning and a red rainstorm alert, the Hong Kong quartet overcame initial hesitancy to display moments of brilliance at the University of Hong Kong’s Grand Hall.

Despite a typhoon warning and a red rainstorm alert, the Hong Kong quartet overcame initial hesitancy to display moments of brilliance at the University of Hong Kong’s Grand Hall.

11 Oct 2021 - 5:43PM
Review | Carmen: Hong Kong is a fun adaptation of the classic opera that does away with original ending ‘fetishising violence against women’

Transposing Carmen from Seville to Hong Kong makes this nearly 150-year-old story more immediate and relatable, although some cuts made for awkward breaks in the narrative flow.

Transposing Carmen from Seville to Hong Kong makes this nearly 150-year-old story more immediate and relatable, although some cuts made for awkward breaks in the narrative flow.

3 Aug 2021 - 10:19AM
Review | Zee Zee’s jaw-dropping technique and touch, focused Hong Kong Philharmonic to the fore in Liszt piano concerto and Brahms symphony

Mixing tenderness and ferocity, and showing her dazzling technique, Chinese virtuoso Zee Zee gave a thrilling performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 1, while the HK Phil showed plenty of polish.

Mixing tenderness and ferocity, and showing her dazzling technique, Chinese virtuoso Zee Zee gave a thrilling performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 1, while the HK Phil showed plenty of polish.

8 May 2021 - 8:23PM
Review | Pianist Chiyan Wong shows masterful touch in Bach-Busoni Goldberg Variations, but adds some questionable ornamentation

Hong Kong-born pianist’s interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as transcribed by Busoni had moments of beauty and tenderness, but the ornamentation he added was at best whimsical, at worst nonsensical.

Hong Kong-born pianist’s interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as transcribed by Busoni had moments of beauty and tenderness, but the ornamentation he added was at best whimsical, at worst nonsensical.

29 Apr 2021 - 4:15PM
Review | Hong Kong Sinfonietta and Adrien La Marca concert a mixed bag – sagging in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, soaring in Brahms quintet arrangement

French viola soloist Adrien La Marca shines in a performance of Brahms’ second string quintet arranged for string ensemble, but he, violin soloist Christoph Poppen and the orchestra never quite get going in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante.

French viola soloist Adrien La Marca shines in a performance of Brahms’ second string quintet arranged for string ensemble, but he, violin soloist Christoph Poppen and the orchestra never quite get going in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante.

30 Mar 2021 - 4:15PM
Complete Beethoven sonata cycle recorded live in Hong Kong by Konstantin Lifschitz issued on CD and now vinyl – how they compare

Konstantin Lifschitz performed Beethoven’s 32 sonatas in eight concerts at the University of Hong Kong in 2017. Listening to the box set recordings on CD and LP reveals subtle differences between the two.

Konstantin Lifschitz performed Beethoven’s 32 sonatas in eight concerts at the University of Hong Kong in 2017. Listening to the box set recordings on CD and LP reveals subtle differences between the two.

30 Dec 2020 - 6:57PM
Review | Chinese pianist Lang Lang entertains in Beethoven concerto with HK Phil, showing injury that sidelined him is no longer a factor

Chinese pianist produces eccentric and entertaining performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, his cheeky fingerwork catching Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra’s woodwinds off guard at one point.

Chinese pianist produces eccentric and entertaining performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, his cheeky fingerwork catching Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra’s woodwinds off guard at one point.

21 Jan 2020 - 6:09PM
Joyfulness the hallmark of Sitkovetsky Trio’s recital and orchestral performances of works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov

The rapport between violinist and cellist, and the technical accomplishment of all three players, was evident in their performances of works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Beethoven, including the latter’s Triple Concerto with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

The rapport between violinist and cellist, and the technical accomplishment of all three players, was evident in their performances of works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Beethoven, including the latter’s Triple Concerto with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

18 Nov 2019 - 7:00PM
Review | Renée Fleming enchants, Hong Kong Philharmonic excels in evening of Barber, Shostakovich, Schubert and Wagner

American soprano was at her expressive best in Samuel Barber’s evocation of the Deep South, Knoxville: Summer of 2015, while orchestra showed its spurs in Wagner prelude and Shostakovich’s electric ninth symphony.

American soprano was at her expressive best in Samuel Barber’s evocation of the Deep South, Knoxville: Summer of 2015, while orchestra showed its spurs in Wagner prelude and Shostakovich’s electric ninth symphony.

11 Nov 2019 - 4:30PM
Anne Sofie von Otter and string quartet Brooklyn Rider perform a feast of modern classics in Hong Kong

Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Björk were just some of the contemporary performers whose songs were performed with gusto. Von Otter’s rapport with the members of Brooklyn Rider made for an entertaining and eclectic evening of music.

Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Björk were just some of the contemporary performers whose songs were performed with gusto. Von Otter’s rapport with the members of Brooklyn Rider made for an entertaining and eclectic evening of music.

5 Jun 2019 - 5:30PM
Review | Musical mismatch: violin drowns out harpsichord in Bach, but pairs well in contemporary works

Pairing of violinist Jennifer Pike and keyboard player Mahan Esfahani only a partial success, her liberal vibrato and modern technique drowning out his delicate playing in baroque pieces. They fared better with contemporary music.

Pairing of violinist Jennifer Pike and keyboard player Mahan Esfahani only a partial success, her liberal vibrato and modern technique drowning out his delicate playing in baroque pieces. They fared better with contemporary music.

22 May 2019 - 4:37PM
Review | Jaap van Zweden, HK Phil deliver triumphant Bruckner 7, Khatia Buniatishvili shows the Mozart touch

Composer’s seventh symphony was a showcase for the best of the Hong Kong Philharmonic under Jaap van Zweden, while soloist Khatia Buniatishvili showed poise and dexterity in Mozart’s K466 piano concerto.

Composer’s seventh symphony was a showcase for the best of the Hong Kong Philharmonic under Jaap van Zweden, while soloist Khatia Buniatishvili showed poise and dexterity in Mozart’s K466 piano concerto.

6 May 2019 - 6:37PM
Mozart, Brahms, Schumann in Hong Kong Sinfonietta season opener get loving treatment

French pianist Jean-Frédéric Neuburger and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta shone often during last Saturday’s concert, which also saw the world premiere of Life Episode II by Hong Kong composer Austin Leung.

French pianist Jean-Frédéric Neuburger and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta shone often during last Saturday’s concert, which also saw the world premiere of Life Episode II by Hong Kong composer Austin Leung.

15 Apr 2019 - 7:00PM
Review | Russian pianist Denis Matsuev brings technical brilliance, emotional intimacy to Tchaikovsky recital

Matching technical brilliance with emotional intimacy, Matsuev gave a fitting account of some of his compatriot’s best known music for piano.

Matching technical brilliance with emotional intimacy, Matsuev gave a fitting account of some of his compatriot’s best known music for piano.

8 Mar 2019 - 9:39PM
Review | Chinese pianist Zee Zee dazzles in Ravel concerto, NHK Symphony Orchestra nails Prokofiev’s 6th

Soloist’s breathtaking technique was on display in performance of Ravel’s jazz-infused Concerto in G with NHK Symphony Orchestra, which delivered a precise and powerful rendering of Prokofiev’s austere Symphony No. 6.

Soloist’s breathtaking technique was on display in performance of Ravel’s jazz-infused Concerto in G with NHK Symphony Orchestra, which delivered a precise and powerful rendering of Prokofiev’s austere Symphony No. 6.

1 Mar 2019 - 6:56PM
Review | Marin Alsop conjures Bernstein as São Paulo Symphony Orchestra lights up 2019 Hong Kong Arts Festival

Sparks fly from Chinese soloist’s violin, and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Alsop deliver a passionate performance of Der Rosenkavalier Suite, in opening concert of 2019 Hong Kong Arts Festival.

Sparks fly from Chinese soloist’s violin, and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Alsop deliver a passionate performance of Der Rosenkavalier Suite, in opening concert of 2019 Hong Kong Arts Festival.

22 Feb 2019 - 4:26PM
Star mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato dazzles in evening of Baroque arias and instrumental music

From a sublime Dido’s Lament to a jubilant closing Handel aria, the American singer showed the full range of her singing; she was ably accompanied by period instrument ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro.

From a sublime Dido’s Lament to a jubilant closing Handel aria, the American singer showed the full range of her singing; she was ably accompanied by period instrument ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro.

18 Jan 2019 - 8:01PM
Love for Western classical music continues to rise in China

Number of professional symphony orchestras on the mainland has grown well beyond 80

Number of professional symphony orchestras on the mainland has grown well beyond 80

12 Jan 2019 - 1:27PM
A year of sustained high notes for classical music in Hong Kong

The HK Phil went from strength to strength in 2018, while the programming of city’s other leading orchestras brought diversity – a touchstone of Yip Wing-sie’s tenure at the Sinfonietta, which is to end in 2020, we learned.

The HK Phil went from strength to strength in 2018, while the programming of city’s other leading orchestras brought diversity – a touchstone of Yip Wing-sie’s tenure at the Sinfonietta, which is to end in 2020, we learned.

28 Dec 2018 - 6:03PM
Review | Russian virtuoso Evgeny Kissin excels in evening of Liszt and Richard Strauss with Hong Kong Philharmonic

Soloist mixes power, virtuosity and incredible lightness of touch in performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1; orchestra shines in Also Sprach Zarathustra, with brass and concertmaster’s contributions especially noteworthy.

Soloist mixes power, virtuosity and incredible lightness of touch in performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1; orchestra shines in Also Sprach Zarathustra, with brass and concertmaster’s contributions especially noteworthy.

6 Dec 2018 - 5:47PM
Review | Magical, masterful Mahler from five-star Hong Kong Philharmonic and Jaap van Zweden

From its perfectly paced opening to its final coda, this performance of composer’s Symphony No. 7 was one of sustained intensity.

From its perfectly paced opening to its final coda, this performance of composer’s Symphony No. 7 was one of sustained intensity.

19 Nov 2018 - 8:23PM
Review | Vivaldi Unmasked: delightful, theatrical concert of music by the Venetian composer

City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong’s costumed evocation of Vivaldi’s Venice was well conceived and executed; vocal and instrumental soloists shone in a 70-minute medley from composer’s vast oeuvre. 

City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong’s costumed evocation of Vivaldi’s Venice was well conceived and executed; vocal and instrumental soloists shone in a 70-minute medley from composer’s vast oeuvre. 

12 Nov 2018 - 6:01PM
Review | Joshua Bell’s smooth brilliance in Sibelius followed by laboured Mozart from HK Phil

Violin soloist showed dazzling technique and elegance in Sibelius concerto, but HK Phil under Jaap van Zweden lacked lightness and clarity in Mozart’s Jupiter symphony.

Violin soloist showed dazzling technique and elegance in Sibelius concerto, but HK Phil under Jaap van Zweden lacked lightness and clarity in Mozart’s Jupiter symphony.

10 Sep 2018 - 5:47PM
Passion and precision in HK Phil’s Russian-flavoured season opener of Stravinsky and Rachmaninov

A soloist with technique to burn, Leila Josefowicz negotiated the tricky passages of Stravinsky’s neoclassical Violin Concerto in D with ease; orchestra produced rich sound and gorgeous individual playing in Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2

A soloist with technique to burn, Leila Josefowicz negotiated the tricky passages of Stravinsky’s neoclassical Violin Concerto in D with ease; orchestra produced rich sound and gorgeous individual playing in Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2

3 Sep 2018 - 7:00PM
Energetic HK Phil impress in complex works by Ives, Bernstein and Saint-Saëns – review

From early American modernist Charles Ives’ Central Park in the Dark to Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade for solo violin, it was a night of dynamic and focused playing from the musicians under the baton of Jaap van Zweden

From early American modernist Charles Ives’ Central Park in the Dark to Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade for solo violin, it was a night of dynamic and focused playing from the musicians under the baton of Jaap van Zweden

12 Jun 2018 - 6:02PM
Violinist Midori shines in Bernstein’s Serenade with Tongyeong Festival Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach

Japanese soloist’s technical prowess and sweet tone were in full evidence in American’s 1954 work, and orchestra under baton of Christoph Eschenbach excelled in Korean ‘sound composition’ and Dvorák’s ‘New World’ symphony

Japanese soloist’s technical prowess and sweet tone were in full evidence in American’s 1954 work, and orchestra under baton of Christoph Eschenbach excelled in Korean ‘sound composition’ and Dvorák’s ‘New World’ symphony

11 Apr 2018 - 7:42PM
Review | Mozart’s Haffner Symphony ‘played with great fire’ by Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra: review

The orchestra, under the baton of Gábor Takács-Nagy, played with great energy, grace and spirit. Also on the programme were pieces by Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert, Rossini and Camille Saint-Saëns

The orchestra, under the baton of Gábor Takács-Nagy, played with great energy, grace and spirit. Also on the programme were pieces by Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert, Rossini and Camille Saint-Saëns

26 Mar 2018 - 12:38PM
Danish orchestra, Chinese soloist dazzle in Sichuan quake-inspired concerto and late Romantic gems

Percussionist Li Biao showed remarkable technique, versatility and musicality in Guo Wenjing concerto, accompanied in stunning fashion by an orchestra which played a demanding programme with polish and panache

Percussionist Li Biao showed remarkable technique, versatility and musicality in Guo Wenjing concerto, accompanied in stunning fashion by an orchestra which played a demanding programme with polish and panache

21 Mar 2018 - 5:55PM