CityU musicians strike the right note in mainland concerts

Jenny Kwan

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Classically-trained musicians from among students, staff and alumni at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) conducted two highly successful tours to the mainland recently, promoting internationalization and whole-person education.

CityU's Philharmonic Orchestra (Orchestra) began its first ever exchange tour with a trip to South China University of Technology in Guangzhou for the "250th Birthday of Mozart Commemoration Concert" from 7 to 9 April. The Orchestra performed for the first time its rendition of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 and Symphony No.41, while the South China University of Technology Orchestra played the overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio (K.384) and two arias from the opera The Marriage of Figaro.

The Orchestra made its second cross-border visit from 14 to 20 April, this time travelling to Tianjin University where the CityU musicians ran a joint performance with the Pei Yang Art Troupe of Tianjin University, attended art lessons and visited important landmarks to better understand the culture found in Tianjin and Beijing.

Professor Lilian Vrijmoed, Dean of Student Learning, led the CityU delegation to South China University of Technology. She cited the writer Hans Christian Andersen—"Where words fall, music speaks"—to explain the power of music.

"CityU has a high regard for whole-person development and expects students to balance spiritual, intellectual, physical, social, aesthetic, career and emotional development. I believe those in the Orchestra have cultivated their musicianship, achieved greater team spirit and made friends with many teachers and students in the two institutions," she said.

Mr Joseph Chan, Director of Student Development Services, led the CityU delegation to Tianjin University. He said he was very pleased to see the tours finally take off, six years after the Orchestra was first set up. "By joining these exchange tours, the students have learned a lot about organizing large-scale events and have made themselves excellent CityU ambassadors!" he said.

Mr Chiu Kai Keung, conductor of the Orchestra, said what was interesting about

this cultural exchange was the different perspectives and musicianship that each orchestra brought to the concerts. "The beauty of classical music is it is open to many interpretations, a key lesson learned on this cultural exchange."

Mr Richard Yen, a Year 3 student and Chairman of the Orchestral Committee, said: "It is a milestone for the Orchestra to be able to travel to the mainland. I am sure our musicians have improved a great deal and we have learnt how to run an orchestra better and fine-tuned our musical skills."

Mr Sunny Chung, a CityU alumnus and the Orchestra's pianist, said he was impressed by the two exchange visits. He performed a duet with a pianist from Tianjin University shortly after meeting him on the exchange. "The pianist from the Tianjin University was younger than me, but his passion for music was inspirational. These kinds of opportunities help to improve my performance," Mr Chung said.

Dr Ruth Yee, Associate Director of Student Development Services, acted as deputy leader on the exchange tours. She said the hospitality at South China University of Technology and Tianjin University was excellent and she looked forward to another joint function in the future.

Mr Chan said CityU would invite Pei Yang Art Troupe of Tianjin University to Hong Kong for an exchange programme and would check the feasibility of the CityU Orchestra doing scheduled performances across the border or overseas.


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