Vienna Philharmonic enchants HK
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The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra staged successful concerts in Hong Kong in October.

The resounding success of Vienna Philharmonic's concerts in Hong Kong is a triumph for all

  • Superb concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (VPO) represent the high note in the celebration of the silver jubilee of the establishment of HKSAR.
  • Via diverse platforms, including digital ones, tens of thousands of music lovers enjoyed simultaneous broadcasts together with the live audience.
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At the invitation of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and exclusively sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), the two VPO concerts at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre signal that Hong Kong is more than ready to host international ensembles after a hiatus of nearly three years. The concerts, staged on October 24 and 25 and conducted by world-renowned Maestro Franz Welser-Möst, are among the many initiatives supported by the HKJC's approved donation of HK$630 million to the Government of the HKSAR to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, demonstrating that the HKJC is resolute in pursuing its purpose of acting continuously for the betterment of our society, all in support of creating a stronger community together.

Amid the palpable intense anticipation of the silent audience, as Maestro Welser-Möst swung into action and the musicians played the first note, a historic moment in Hong Kong’s classical musical life was made. Upon its first return to the city since 2011, the VPO again enraptured the live audience, as well as those enjoying simulcasts via multiple platforms, with the sumptuous sounds that are unique to one of the world’s most prestigious orchestras.

Hong Kong was the first stop of VPO’s Asia Tour this year.

It’s not an overstatement to liken the concertgoers’ experience to a pilgrimage by ardent music lovers. “We could feel the live audience’s fervent enthusiasm in the concert hall,” says Tracy Ngai, Manager (Music), Cultural Presentations Section, LCSD. “Non-stop applause welcomed the musicians onto the stage until the last one got into position. At the end of the second concert, the conductor and musicians were honoured with a prolonged standing ovation. It demonstrated the audience’s respect and deep appreciation for VPO’s live performances in Hong Kong.”

Sharing Ngai’s sentiment is Jimmy Fong. “Almost all members of the audience arrived at the venue punctually, even though the concerts were staged on weekdays. This is quite rare,” adds Fong, Manager (Music), LCSD.

Hong Kong was the first stop of VPO’s Asia Tour this year. A quick scan of the live audience revealed the broad appeal of the leading orchestra and classical music in the city. The concertgoers represented a wide spectrum of the society, including locals and expatriates of all walks of life as well as across all age groups. They were completely mesmerised in the selected masterpieces of the Romantic period, which showcased the VPO’s excellence and great symphonic tradition, especially in its interpretation of Austro-German repertoire. They are also among the most celebrated pieces by Wagner, Richard Strauss, Dvořák and Brahms, who are some of the world’s foremost composers closely associated with the orchestra.

VPO performed selected masterpieces of the Romantic period.

Although the VPO last performed in Hong Kong 11 years ago, its musicians were right at home, electrifying the audience with the orchestra’s signature Viennese sound palette, under Maestro Welser-Möst’s direction characterised with poetic sway and gesture.

The pleasant surprises included two encores, which are highly rare among top ensembles. “In appreciation of the enthusiastic audience, the VPO played a waltz and a polka as the encores, which will be featured in the repertoire of the orchestra’s New Year’s Concert 2023,” says Ngai, adding that the encores were almost a preview of the upcoming prestigious annual event, tickets for which are extremely hard to obtain. The encores brought the atmosphere to a boiling point, showcasing the excellence of VPO and Maestro Welser-Möst in this much-loved classical dance music.

World-renowned Maestro Franz Welser-Möst.

To enable as many as possible to enjoy this musical feast in the city, LCSD delivered live broadcasts to tens of thousands of music enthusiasts via multiple platforms, including RTHK’s radio and TV channel, as well as LCSD’s Cultural Presentations Section webpage.  Many logged into the webpage to view each of the live broadcasts, Ngai says. “We have received encouraging feedback on the live broadcasts. Many were appreciative of the broadcasts’ great quality, commending that they effectively captured and highlighted the characters of the masterpieces.” 

Musicians and conductor receive a standing ovation.

Both Ngai and Fong were part of the team that had worked diligently for more than two years to make VPO live in Hong Kong a reality. They collaborated closely with the agent Wu Promotion and various government departments. “As the organiser in Hong Kong, we are overjoyed with the concerts,” Ngai says. “We’re able to overcome many challenges because all departments and involved parties had been united in our determination to bring VPO live performances to the city. All did their utmost to facilitate the process.”

The professionalism of the musicians and conductor has impressed Fong. “Ever since the moment they arrived in Hong Kong, they willingly fulfilled the pandemic-control requirements. This is also thanks to the clear communication by the agent,” he notes.

Held shortly after the relaxation of pandemic control measures, the VPO concerts in Hong Kong have set a benchmark for future live performances by international ensembles, Fong believes. “It also sends a positive message to other international performing groups that they are welcome in Hong Kong.” 

Photo credits: The Leisure and Cultural Services Department 


Click  here view the VPO Concerts in Hong Kong online from November 25, 2022 till December 24, 2022