Principals of Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra call on chiefs to quit

Principal musicians from city's leading Chinese ensemble call on two bosses to quit amid claims of 'empire building' and waste of public funds

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 January, 2015, 5:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 January, 2015, 9:07am

Disgruntled musicians of the city's flagship Chinese ensemble yesterday called for the resignation of its artistic and executive chiefs due to "inept governance and wastage of public funds".

Three section principals of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra listed out charges, from artistic to personal issues, towards both.

"Mr Yan Huichang (artistic director), along with Ms Chin Man-wah (CEO), has deceived the orchestra's council in the name of connecting with the world to create new positions and change job titles," said Hsin Hsiao-ling, the orchestra's gaohu principal at a press conference.

"Over the past decade, both directors have turned Hong Kong taxpayers' resources and the orchestra's international reputation into building Mr Yan's own empire," the veteran of more than 20 years added.

Her sister Hsin Hsiao-hung, the orchestra's erhu principal for 28 years, accused Celina Chin of double standard in being lenient to Yan and harsh towards players.

"Ms Chin forbids our normal activities beyond the orchestra and sees that as conflict of interest, but those of Yan are seen as beneficial to the orchestra's development," she charged.

The case regarding Yan using the orchestra for personal use involved sending some 20 players to play at his student's graduation concert. But Chin argued it was a part of a collaboration between them and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

The two Hsin sisters, along with zhonghu principal Liu Yang, felt they were the victims of a recent restructuring measure which re-auditions their principal positions for a new "joint concertmaster" title for all three.

"They called it an enhancement of our positions, but in fact it was a means to attack and revenge on us," he said, referring to their criticism on the orchestra's new "Eco-huqins", which replaced snake skin with environmentally friendly materials.

All three have decided not to apply for the advertised post, and were prepared to be sacked after their open defiance.

Carlye Tsui Wai-ling, chairman of the orchestra's council, expressed "shock and great disappointment" towards these "unfounded" allegations by senior members of the orchestra.

"The artistic director and the chief executive receive orders according to decisions of the council, and we have been transparent in our operations like a listed company where you can see the annual reports on the internet," said Tsui.

The renamed positions, she said, were merely aimed at tightening the string sections. "I sincerely hope these players would apply for those positions before the deadline on January 31," she said.

Yuan Shi-chun, architect of the Eco-huqins, said: "The orchestra is embarking on a new development and requires the right ones to lead young professionals in the sections," he said.

Yan Huichang, who was in Shenzhen yesterday and was unaware of his players' challenge, declined to comment.