Speech by Ms Tisa Ho (Executive Director, Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Ltd) at the 2007 Festival Kick-off Press Conference

October 24th, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to join the Chairman in thanking you for your presence here today, and for your continued support.

The Hong Kong Arts Festival is 35 years old this coming year. This is also a very significant time for cultural development in Hong Kong, with the possibility of new venues on the horizon and a number of policies under review. With an enviable track record of artistic leadership and excellent support in the community, the Festival is well positioned to respond to these exciting opportunities for further growth and development. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the action, very much a case of being in the right place at the right time.

A festival has been defined as an extraordinary event taking place at an extraordinary time and place. The Hong Kong Arts Festival has been an extraordinary part of Hong Kong's history. This is a role that we will continue to play as a major cultural event, commensurate with Hong Kong's global position as a cosmopolitan centre and a major Asian city.

Our 35th Hong Kong Arts Festival is one of significant stellar power, with over 150 performances and events in 10 different venues over 30 days in February and March next year. There are close to 100 paid performances, plus workshops, meet-the-artist sessions, youth programmes and other "Plus" events.

The first ever visit to Hong Kong by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra with its Music Director Yuri Simonov, opens the 35th Hong Kong Arts Festival. The Orchestra brings three nights of the best Russian classics selected from its most celebrated repertoire.

Other international luminaries include international divas, Sylvie Guillem, Julia Migenes, Yang Guang and Christina Pluhar. Amongst our jazz and world greats are Joshua Redman, Dave Douglas, Chucho Valdes and Youssou N'Dour.

Hong Kong personalities and institutions are also well represented. For this important milestone I am especially pleased that our major music ensembles, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta will all participate under the batons of their respective distinguished music directors. Eugene Pao will also be joining us, and The Hong Kong Children's Choir will make a special appearance to help us pay tribute to Hong Kong composers. In theatre, I would especially like to mention two of the Festival's commissioned theatre pieces, Tian Gong Kai Wu and And Then There's You both of which bring a strong sense of Hong Kong's history to the stage. In dance, we bring together three generations of movers and shakers in Hong Kong contemporary dance, 16 dancers and choreographers in all, in a special programme entitled My Life as a Dancer – the evolution. This is, in some ways, a summary of the history of contemporary dance in Hong Kong.

A consciousness of history is also at the heart of this year's major international collaboration, the bi-lingual new work entitled Lost Village co-written and co-directed by Li Liuyi and Oriza Hirata. And the Leipzig Ballet makes history, both for the Festival and for Hong Kong, in bringing with them both the Gewandhaus Orchestra, and the soloists and choir of the Leipzig Opera.

From first performance to the final echo, this is going to be a fabulous festival, as you will see from the highlights in just a moment. Details are in the Booking Brochure, informative articles are in the FestMag, and our Plus programmes will be out shortly as well.

I look forward to being in touch with you in the run-up to the Festival, and to seeing you at many performances of the 35th Hong Kong Arts Festival. Thank you for your ongoing support, and for taking the time to be here with us today.


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