East-West fusion concert explains Dragon Boat Festival’s origin for Hong Kong children

We want to make kids excited about going to music concerts, and explain Chinese festivals in a fun way, says promoter of Sunday’s event featuring new chamber music work, narrated by actor and singer Gregory Rivers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 2:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 2:33pm

Premiere Performances of Hong Kong will stage two East-meets-West fusion concerts on May 28 to celebrate this year’s Tuen Ng Festival. The Beat of the Dragon Boat is part of the promoter’s ongoing effort to stimulate young Hongkongers’ interest not only in music but Chinese traditions.

The family concert programme featuring live chamber music and storytelling involves a sextet of local musicians playing Eastern and Western instruments: Born Lau (viola), Masami Nagai (double bass), Juliana Beckel (harp), Mark Lung (percussion), Yang Sin-yu (sheng) and Mai Wai-him (suona).

Joining them will be popular Hong Kong actor and singer Gregory Rivers, who will provide narration in Chinese and English.

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“We are trying to expand the repertoire of children’s chamber music programming, explain the story behind Chinese festivals in a fun and inspiring way, and make kids excited about going to music concerts,” says Andrea Fessler, founder and executive director of PPHK.

Canadian author Christina Matula-Häkli and American composer Alexis Alrich, who collaborated in 2015 on a similar production, Shadow in the Moon, which tells the story of the mid-Autumn Festival paired with live music, created The Beat of the Dragon Boat. Matula-Häkli marries elements from the legends of the minister/poet Qu Yuan and the Dragon King in a partly made-up narrative that explains the origins of this annual celebration.

“It is the story of Qu Yuan’s friendship with the Dragon King that gives rise to the dragon boat racing as we know today,” says Matula-Häkli. “The story also features two of Qu Yuan’s best known poems in song format.”

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A lot of effort went into composing music that properly evoked the feelings and emotions of the narrative. Individual instruments are associated with elements in the story: the double bass and viola represent Qu Yuan, the harp represents the river and the suona represents the Dragon King.

Preceding each concert will be free paper-dragon-boat-making workshops organised by the Asia Society Hong Kong, co-presenter of the concerts. Registration is not required.

May 28, 3pm-4pm, 5pm-6pm (concert), 2pm-3pm, 4pm-5pm (workshop), The Hong Kong Jockey Club Hall, Asia Society Centre, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty. Tickets HK$375

For more information see goo.gl/dCg76H. Inquiries: 9545 6851