Speech by Ms Tisa Ho (Executive Director, Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Ltd) at the 2009 HKAF Kick-off Press Conference

October 15th, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here with you today to share the wonderful array of programmes to be presented in the 37th Hong Kong Arts Festival 2009 (HKAF). I would like to join the Chairman in thanking you for making the time to join us.

As one of Hong Kong’s major signature events with over 150 performances and events over 32 days, featuring top talent from around the world and at home, HKAF is more than an annual cultural feast for Hong Kong. It supports Hong Kong’s position as a leading Asian city and as a meeting place for creative minds, where you will find the best from around the world alongside outstanding local talent.

Each year, HKAF seeks to meet the expectations of excellence that are now an established hallmark – and to go some way further. In the 37th HKAF, we are doing this literally as well as metaphorically.

Mindful of new possibilities in West Kowloon in the future, and responding to the current situation in choice of venues, we are taking HKAF to new or seldom visited spaces, to expand the scope and variety offered by HKAF, and to introduce exciting, alternative performance experiences. This is one of the ways in which we hope to contribute to the continuing development and new initiatives in Hong Kong’s artistic landscape. Therefore, in addition to the usual venues, we will be presenting performances in Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, a Hollywood Road art gallery, St John’s Cathedral, and venues in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tsuen Wan.

Journey is a key concept in the 37th HKAF. We travel to Alice’s Wonderland in the gorgeous ballet by the English National Ballet, Alcina’s enchanted island in the beautiful production of the Latvian National Opera, and the haunted forest of The Emperor Jonesfrom The Wooster Group and the dreamscape of The Peony Pavilion as interpreted by the National Ballet of China. In Peter Hall’s production of Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle crosses into an unfamiliar social world, and of course, in Vesturport’s Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa is caught between the human and insect worlds. We invite you to journey across time and space with these stellar performers. We also invite you to take personal journeys into the soundscapes offered by talents as diverse as maestro Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of four major visiting orchestras presented in this HKAF; world and jazz music icon Omar Sosa, reunited jazz legends Chick Corea and John McLaughlin, and Lisa Ono, Asia’s queen of bossa nova celebrates 50 years of this wonderful music with us.

We are privileged to be able to present these wonderful performers and hope that you will find much to enjoy in the 37th HKAF. Grace will tell you more in a moment, but before that, there are two new initiatives that I must mention. As you know, providing a platform for local and emerging talent is one of the HKAF’s missions. This year we take this one step further to present an Asia Pacific Dance Platform to showcase work of choreographers in the region; and we launch a new Mentorship Scheme in which a younger artist benefits from the experience and insights of a mentor who provides guidance along the creative path from concept to production. We are grateful to Fredric Mao for coming on this journey as the first Mentor to work with Yat Yau in the HKAF production: Black Swan, which will play in the Shouson and Yuen Long theatres.

Other HKAF commissions include Danny Yung’s Book of Ghosts; and Chong Mui-ngam’s Murder in San Jose, and experimental music from Tang Chi-wai and Yuen Cheuk-wa of Primary Shapes. I am also delighted that four major Hong Kong companies will join us in the 37th HKAF: the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the Hong Kong Ballet and the City Contemporary Dance Company. Their contributions enrich the programme even further.

Our 32-day journey will begin with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and I hope you will travel with us all along the way.

Before I conclude I would like to echo the Chairman’s thanks to our sponsors and funding bodies and I thank you again for making the time to be here today. I look forward to seeing you at many HKAF performances and events.


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