Speech by Mr Douglas Gautier (Executive Director, Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Ltd) at the 2006 Festival Kick-off Press Conference

October 18th, 2005

Ladies & Gentlemen, I would like to support our Chairman's welcome and add my thanks to you all.

Our 2006 Festival will offer, over a 37 day period, 106 paid performances with 40 performing groups - 30 overseas/10 local - as well as five exhibitions and our inclusive Festival Plus programme of talks, seminars and meet-the-artist sessions.

One of the aims in programming the 2006 Festival was to present some of the world's best performing ensembles in work which showcases them at the peak of their powers - for example the San Francisco Symphony, Britain's National Theatre, the Schaubuhne Theatre from Berlin, Rosas dance company, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE). 

There will also be a number of tributes to such artists as Ray Charles from John Scofield, and Antonio Carlos Jobim from Paquito D'Rivera and New York Voices.  Importantly 2006 marks Mozart's 250th birthday and we celebrate with a superb production of Don Giovanni from the Semper Opera Dresden and Opera Nuremberg, and mostly Mozart programmes in our chamber music series and orchestral concerts from the OAE. These will be supplemented by two fascinating Mozart exhibitions of his life and works.

This is a Festival that also welcomes international, living, cultural 'treasures' - for example, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Michael Tilson Thomas, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Lin Hwai-min and Eva Yerbabuena - as well as some of our own Hong Kong 'living treasures' such as Doming Lam (celebrating his 80th birthday), Chung King-fai, Sheren Tang and Koi Ming-fai.

The Theatre component is particularaly exciting.  The National Theatre's production of The History Boys - their most successful play ever - will premiere internationally at our Festival in an exclusive season before it goes to Broadway.  Nora, the re-working of Ibsen's classic A Doll's House, is an astonishing piece of work by Germany's most outstanding director of his generation - Thomas Ostermeier.  In addition Taiwan's U-Theatre meets the Shaolin kung-fu masters in A Touch of Zen, and we premiere a home grown musical from the Actors' Family - The Legend of the White Snake - another Arts Festival commission.

We also look forward to the collaboration of our own Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, under Edo De Waart, and the magnificent City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, under Simon Halsey, in performances of Mahler's Symphony No 2 and the ethereal Requiem by Faure.

For this Festival we have also programmed works which will especially appeal to family audiences - take a look at Beauty and the Beast from the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Red Priest, Circus Ronaldo and the recital from local pianist Lio Kuok Wai.

Do also keep an eye out for our exhibition programme and Festival Plus.

This is your Festival, so I invite you to take a good look at our Programme & Booking Guide and our website.  We also encourage you to take advantage of our internet booking service - all details are on the site.

We hope to see you all again and very often during the Festival period, and we thank you for your ongoing support, and being with us today.


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