The 43rd Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2015
Advance Booking start 15 October 2014

(Hong Kong, 13 October 2014) Today the Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) announces details of the forthcoming 43rd HKAF 2015. Featuring 49 international and local ensembles or solo artists, there are 137 performances running mainly from 27 February to 29 March. [Please refer to the statistics factsheet for details]

“I believe the Government, and indeed all our partners and stakeholders, understand and appreciate the value of the work of the Festival: not only as a highlight of the year for arts lovers, but also for the extensive educational and outreach work that is done to complement and extend the impact of the wonderful programmes presented and produced each year.

In addition to these qualitative benefits, there is a quantitative case in the excellent return on investment that can be expressed in financial terms. At just under 30% funding from the Government, the HKAF has the lowest ratio of government support in percentage terms among Hong Kong’s major performing arts organisations. At an estimated budget of about $112 million for the 43rd HKAF and therefore generating an estimated earned income of about $78 million, I believe we lead in ROI in both absolute and percentage terms.

We hope to have early indication as to the Government’s intentions for the next cycle so that we can continue to deliver high quality international programmes that take considerable lead time to secure, and also plan work with local talent which requires as much gestation time.

The Festival produces original work in dance, theatre and opera, working closely with writers, composers and choreographers as well as performers. I am delighted that the 41st HKAF production Heart of Coral will be revived and presented as part of Hong Kong Week in Taiwan later this month. This adds to the previous tours of other HKAF productions in the region and is testament to the Festival’s commitment to Hong Kong’s talent and their continued development.

We have a truly outstanding line up for the 43rd HKAF, including classics that have stood the test of time, and topical new work that is in and of today. We trust that all our audiences will find many performances of interest.” (The Hon Ronald Arculli, Chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Festival)

“Great performances have a wonderfully humanising influence. They release us from everyday life to reconnect with a self that is more vibrantly aware, more centred and at peace; allowing us to be more in tune with fundamental human values shared across different convictions and beliefs. The state of civilisations and societies is captured and reflected in the arts. Participating in the arts is one way of taking an active part in the history of the community as it continues to unfold.” (Ms Tisa Ho, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival)

On the 40th anniversary of the United Nations International Women’s Year, the 43rd HKAF salutes and celebrates the indomitable spirit of women. This is a major component in the programming: in the great artists and ensembles featured as well as subject matter and characters portrayed in opera, theatre, music and dance. This year HKAF continues to present the world’s great artists, and sustains its commitment to staging new works and showcasing young talent. [The Projected 43rd HKAF Income Sources can be found in the attached factsheet]

OPERA
Women take pride of place in this HKAF’s roster of Western and Chinese operas.

From the Bolshoi Opera comes Rimsky-Korsakov’s thrilling opera The Tsar's Bride. Under the baton of the legendary Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, the opera’s striking melodies, great arias and grand subject matter make it a perfect fit for the Bolshoi’s brilliant soloists and resplendent orchestra and chorus.

The all-female Zhejiang Xiaobaihuai Yue Opera Troupe returns to Hong Kong after their legendary debut 30 years ago. Led by award-winning performer Mao Weitao, the Troupe performs Five Daughters Offering Facilitations, the company’s most celebrated classic; The Moon Over a Fountain, a new work specially created for the 30th anniversary; and The New Butterfly Lovers, an award-winning reinterpretation of this best-known tragic romance.

Commissioned by HKAF, the Jockey Club Local Creative Talents Series: Datong - The Chinese Utopia is a chamber opera about political reformer Kang Youwei. Composed by Chan Hing-yan with text by Evans Chan, the opera features a stellar cast of Hong Kong’s homegrown talents under the baton of Lio Kuok-man and direction by Tang Shu-wing.

In Cantonese opera, esteemed veteran artists and emerging talents perform the full length classic Lovers’ Tears, while up-and-coming stars perform four “core repertories” of the genre - The Phoenix Pavillion, Sworn in Grotto, Ping Guai Bids Farewell and The Third Wife Giving a Lesson to her Son.

MUSIC
Some of the world’s most remarkable Maestros and leading musicians light up the 43rd HKAF. The Festival Opening sees Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden in works by Richard Strauss and Anton Bruckner. The phenomenal Venezuelan maestro Gustavo Dudamel comes to Asia for the first time with his outstanding ensemble Los Angeles Philharmonic. The celebrated harpsichordist and conductor William Christie brings both his renowned baroque orchestra from Les Arts Florissants and six young superb singers from his master-class academy Les Jardin des Voix. The most recent Gramophone Artist of the Year Leonidas Kavakos and his pianist partner Enrico Pace return to HKAF after their unforgettable all-Beethoven recital last year. Acclaimed by The New York Times as “the perfect 21st century diva”, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato makes her Hong Kong debut appearing in her fascinating baroque programme Drama Queens.

An array of established international artists takes the stage this year. Paul Hillier leads his Grammy award-winning ensemble Theatre of Voices in two unique programmes singing David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize composition in one while celebrating the 80th birthday of the legendary composer Arvo Pärt in another. Italy’s renowned baroque ensemble Europa Galante brings its interesting film and concert programme Chiara’s Diary to HKAF. Its founder Fabio Biondi also performs a solo recital exploring the golden age of the violin in Italy from 1700 to 1750. A friend of the great painter Marc Chagall, Russian born pianist Mikhail Rudy combines the master's unpublished sketches for the Paris Opera ceiling with his live performance in his film and recital programme The Sound of Colours.

The Festival continues its tradition of presenting emerging international and local musical talents. Among them are the 20-year old Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho, a prize winner at the 2014 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition and the 2011 International Tchaikovsky competition; as well as Hong Kong born pianist David Fung and his Trio Dushkin with violinist Dennis Kim and cellist Jonah Kim.

On the home front, the HSBC A Hong Kong Story Concert taps into the essence of the city's culture and our collective memory with ancient folk songs, popular tunes and recent compositions performed by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. The Hong Kong Sinfonietta presents Bulgarian pianist Plemena Mangova in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and a new work by Joyce Wai-chung Tang. The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra continues its ninth episode of Music about China with the audience choice of works featured in this series since its launch.

JAZZ / WORLD MUSIC
10-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin returns to HKAF with his daughter Madison and new band spirityouall. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday’s birth, the great singer songwriter Cassandra Wilson brings her smoky, smooth delivery to Holiday’s greatest hits. Hailed as “one of the world’s most elegant live bands”, Pink Martini enthralls the Hong Kong audience with a heady mix of Latin, samba, jazz and good, old fashioned pop. Setting off on an incredible musical journey from Spain to Korea, World Music Weekend opens your eyes, ears and mind to beautiful and sensual sounds and cultures from which they come. Barefoot Divas’ magical six-part harmonies come to Hong Kong for the first time to empower women and nourish our souls.

THEATRE*
Ireland’s Gate Theatre makes its Hong Kong debut with Pride and Prejudice, which has played to packed houses and standing ovations both in Ireland and in the United States. The brilliant theatre star, Lisa Dwan, brings three compassionate works of Samuel Beckett to life with empathy and truth. Thoroughly political, but never explicitly so, Fight Night reveals the reasons and motivations that compel voters to vote.

To all families and young people, Complicite brings a wonderfully imagined and heartwarming adventure Lionboy, adapted from Zizou Corder’s best-selling trilogy. PuppetCinema’s wacky love story Planet Egg is told with puppets, live cinema and vegetables with real-time sound effects and projected video feed. The Paper Cinema creates a unique and magical performance of Homer’s Odyssey, told through real-time animation, live music, drawings and cut-out paper puppets. Inspired by the work of Pina Bausch, Gandini Juggling’s award-winning Smashed is a sensational mix of juggling, circus skills, dance and unconventional entertainment.

There are two remarkable new local theatre works. The Amahs is a tale of friendship and devotion about three young women who worked as amahs in different homes in the 1950s to 1970s of Hong Kong. It is written by Roger Lee, co-writer of the award-winning film A Simple Life, and Hong Kong’s leading playwright Wong Wing-sze. Three of the most respected stage actresses – Louisa So, Alice Lau and Pang Hang-ying – travel back in time with stage director Roy Szeto to bring back an overlooked chapter of this city’s history. The Crowd is a searing play by China’s most produced living playwright Nick Yu, directed by award-winning Hong Kong actor-director Tang Wai-kit. This daring collaboration between Shanghai and Hong Kong theatre makers investigates one man’s struggle to seek justice at all costs that culminates in a rendezvous on a fateful day in Hong Kong.

*The programme Les Fausses Confidences originally scheduled from the 20th to 22nd March has been cancelled due to the withdrawal of Isabelle Huppert from the production’s Asian tour.


DANCE
The world-famous Bolshoi Ballet brings blazing energy and virtuoso dancing in the motion-filled spectacle, The Flames of Paris, rediscovered and revised by their former Artistic Director Alexei Ratmansky in 2008. Another performance from The Bolshoi Ballet is Balanchine’s masterpiece Jewels, a triptych inspired by the beauty of precious stones: Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. Each of its three acts evokes a city: Paris, New York and St. Petersburg.

Four of the world’s top flamenco dancers, Antonio Canales, Carlos Rodríguez, Jesús Carmona, Karime Amaya, join forces with their singers and musicians in Gala Flamenca. This all-star line-up showcases the very best interpreters of both traditional and modern flamenco styles. British-born choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has master-minded a fabulous and breathtaking production for the Dutch National Ballet, a spectacular new Cinderella, which is a triumph of storytelling and design.

The seventh edition of Asia Pacific Dance Platform brings together two masculine forces – Korean dancer-choreographer Hyoseung Ye and Taiwanese all-male company HORSE – to celebrate Asian creativity on the dance stage. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Contemporary Dance Series continues to set the stage for dance creativity to flourish in Hong Kong, showing four 30-minute new works in two programmes and also presenting seven emergent choreographers in one special programme.

YOUNG FRIENDS
Growing by the year, HKAF’s Young Friends continues to nurture the artistic temperament among young people in Hong Kong. Apart from attending selected rehearsals and performances, Young Friends members can participate in meet-the-artist sessions, workshops and lecture demonstrations by local and international performers. In addition, they are offered tailored-made programmes, with customised educational booklets to supplement additional information about the performances.

As well as performance-related activities, the Young Friends Mentorship Programme engages current members in inspiring discussions with budding local artists. Young Friends members can also participate in arts administration training programmes during the summer to get more insights about the cultural industry.

PLUS PROGRAMMES
Topping off the impressive list of live performances, Festival PLUS offers audiences an exciting range of activities that enhance their Festival experiences. The 2015 PLUS programme features a series of film screenings under Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema 2014-2015. The legendary singer Bobby McFerrin explores the power of the human voice in his masterclass. A host of Flamenco PLUS events include dance workshops by flamenco stars Jesús Carmona and Karime Amaya, as well as talks by local flamenco dancers and musicians. The world renowned Dutch National Ballet greets audiences at its ‘meet-the-artist’ session, backstage tour and a dance masterclass. Details of the full PLUS programme, including masterclasses, workshops, backstage tours and more will be announced in December.

BOOKINGS and OTHER INFORMATION
The Programme & Booking Guide is now available at all URBTIX outlets. Advance Bookings for the 43rd HKAF will be accepted by fax, post, or on the Festival website (www.hk.artsfestival.org) from 12:00am on 15 October to 11:59pm on 2 December 2014. Audiences can enjoy up to 15% discount on their booking during the Advance Booking period.

During the Advance Booking period, audiences can also enjoy a 6- or 12-month interest-free period for purchasing Festival tickets in instalments with designated credit cards and co-brand/Affinity cards of Bank of East Asia (BEA). This applies to each booking of over HK$2,000, after subscription discounts. Patrons in the Mainland who book through credit cards can choose to receive their tickets by courier with a nominal fee of just HK$60.

Counter Bookings will start on 13 December. Patrons can book their tickets at URBTIX (online at www.urbtix.hk, by phone (852) 2111 5999 or at URBTIX outlets.)

ABOUT THE HONG KONG ARTS FESTIVAL
Launched in 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is a major annual international celebration of the performing arts and one of the region’s premier cultural events, held in February and March each year, serving an audience of over 150,000. Performances take place in over a dozen venues throughout Hong Kong, supplemented by about 250 Festival PLUS and arts education events. The Festival presents the world’s top artists as well as stars of tomorrow and gives equal importance to great traditions and contemporary creations. The Festival also commissions and produces work in theatre, chamber opera and contemporary dance; some Festival productions have toured to other Asian cities after their Hong Kong premiere. For more information, please visit: www.hk.artsfestival.org.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES
For further enquiries, please contact Ms Katy Cheng, Marketing Director, on 2824 3555 or:

Ms Wendy Chung (Opera and Music)
Direct Line: 2828 4931, Email: wendy.chung@hkaf.org

Mr Nick Chan (Jazz/World Music, Theatre)
Direct Line: 2828 4932, Email: nick.chan@hkaf.org

Ms Alexia Chow (Chinese Opera, Theatre and Dance)
Direct Line: 2828 4933, Email: alexia.chow@hkaf.org

Press releases and photos of the 43rd HKAF can be downloaded from: http://www.hk.artsfestival.org/press-room/

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