Hong Kong classical conductor receives top honour from French president

Yip wing-sie's role in promoting cultural ties recognised with presidential accolade

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 December, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 December, 2015, 12:01am

A top home-groomed classical conductor has had a prestigious honour bestowed on her by the French president for promoting bilateral cultural exchange over decades.

Yip Wing-sie, music director of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, became the first local conductor to be awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite, or "Knighthood of the National Order of Merit".

It is the third French accolade for Yip, who won the international conducting competition in Besançon in 1985 and received a knighthood in the arts from the Ministry of Culture in 2007.

READ MORE: Yip Wing-sie - Music director, Hong Kong Sinfonietta

"This honour reflects the work we have done in featuring French music and musicians in the past few years, especially our five tours to France as well as participation in the Le French May at home, on which we work closely with the French consulate in programming and performers," Yip said yesterday.

"I hope it conveys a positive message to the government and the general public in Hong Kong that we local artists have reached a standard that is recognised at state level in France," she added.

Yip's French connection started exactly 30 years ago when she became the first Chinese to win the coveted Besançon competition that kicked off her conducting career. But it is the unique French musical style that drew her to it.

"French musicians have a very special sensitivity that is above technique and it's just sheer enjoyment in making music with these all-round masters," she said.

"The French repertoire offers its own musical language that is subtle in colour and nuance, that I think is great in enriching the orchestra's musicality."

Yip reflected on the accolade as it came in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and political rifts in Hong Kong.

"I admire the resilience and the strength of the French people in the face of such tragedy, and I hope music will bring about a positive note and mitigate hatred among people," she said.