Speech by Tisa Ho (Executive Director of Hong Kong Arts Festival) at the 39th HKAF Kick-off Press Conference on 5 October 2010

October 05th, 2010

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

As Mr Lee has said, the Festival has grown. I am grateful to everyone who has helped make this possible, including a very supportive Chairman and Executive Committee, an indefatigable team of colleagues, sympathetic funding bodies and foundations, wonderful sponsors, and amazingly talented artists.

With all this positive energy, the team has worked hard to put together a festival that hits the expected high points - and more. We continue to present great music, inspiring dance and exciting theatre, in works of established masters performed by the world’s top artists. Long awaited international artists include Cecilia Bartoli who will present two different programmes, the New York City Ballet dancing Balanchine and Robbins, and Robert Wilson's beautiful production of Brecht's The Threepenny Opera with the Berliner Ensemble.

We further extend our commitment to young talent: in a "New Stage" series of theatre, opera and mixed media work; and "Music Nomads" featuring young musicians and ensembles including some from the indie scene. This is in addition to the three existing platforms for young talent in Hong Kong, for dance in the region and for emerging artists on the international music scene.

We also take forward our programme of commissioning and producing new local work – this time Poon Chan-leung's directorial and playwriting debut in a play called An Ordinary Man, starring Louisa So and Cheung Kam-ching; and we reprise Murder in San Jose for a third run with the entire original cast – a HKAF first!

We explore different ways of experiencing the arts out into the open air this year – in a sound and light installation feature at the Kowloon Walled City Park, with ticket prices as low as HK$20.

This event, called Power Plant touches several important dimensions of the 39th HKAF. First, the park will be transformed into a wonderland that enhances and highlights its inherent values, thereby helping us to see what is familiar literally in a new light. Second, it will be an oasis of glowing light and gentle sounds – an ideal setting for reflection and introspection in the hustle and bustle of the city. Third, it is an event for the whole family to enjoy together.

The first two offer a new perspective, allowing us to reach inwards and reconnect with our intuitive understanding. This idea can be found in many of the programmes in the Festival, perhaps most clearly in the sacred music of Bach and in Tristan und Isolde, Wagner's monument to perfect love. As for the third dimension of the 39th HKAF, it begins in February with the joyously uplifting ballet Hobson's Choice, beautifully danced by the Birmingham Royal Ballet; and in March, there is MOMIX reMIX – exhilaratingly imaginative physical and visual creations by a groundbreaking ensemble that continues to amaze and enchant new generations. Both are for the whole family. And for the digital generation, we are launching an iPhone App, so that programme information, and video and audio clips can be accessed on the fly.

To complement this array of programmes and initiatives, there will also be an extensive programme of PLUS activities, to be announced in November. For now, I am delighted to be able to share with you the wonderful programmes in the 39th HKAF. I believe that this is going to be a very good festival and hope you will agree when you see the video presentation in a moment.

The team has worked long and hard to put it all together, and we must now ask our friends in the media to help communicate the range and quality of what is in store, and encourage our audience to make their bookings early.

I began by mentioning some of the people who have helped make this Festival possible. As you know all the effort, energy and talent have been invested so that we can bring the performances to an appreciative audience. I hope you will be there in the audience for many festival performances yourself, and that you will encourage your readers, listeners and viewers to do the same. I look forward to sharing this wonderful festival with you all.


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