The 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2017
Advance Bookings start 7 October 2016

(Hong Kong, 5 October 2016) Today the Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) announces details of the forthcoming 45th HKAF. Featuring over 1,600 outstanding international and local artists in 129 performances, the Festival will run from 15 February to 19 March 2017. [Please refer to the statistics factsheet for details]

“This year, to mark our 45th Anniversary, we are not only presenting an outstanding line-up of performances, but we will also take past HKAF productions to other cities, and present a large-scale outdoor, interactive programme in major public spaces.

None of this would be possible without the support of the Hong Kong community – including many individuals and organisations. I must express appreciation to the Hong Kong Government for its continued support, including special support for programmes which contribute to the celebration of 20 years of Hong Kong SAR. Special mention must be made of the tremendous support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust both on a sustained basis and in connection with our 45th Anniversary. I must also highlight the generous support of the Festival’s numerous corporate sponsors, foundations and individuals donors, whose contributions are important to sustaining the Festival’s growth, and are deeply appreciated” said Mr Victor Cha, Chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

“With the major milestone of the 45th HKAF, this year’s Festival takes ‘in the moment’ as a focal idea. Also, being in, of, and for Hong Kong informs what we do and the programmes that we present, while always keeping in view our mission to engage and involve all our stakeholders; artists, audiences, donors and sponsors, by presenting the best and most interesting works possible. Another Anniversary to mark and celebrate this year is 25 years of Young Friends. This concerted, programmatic engagement of students, leveraging on the Festival’s range and quality, was first established 25 years ago. We know that the Festival is highly anticipated and we aim always to meet or exceed these expectations. The Festival would not be possible without any of these parties and we deeply value each partnership,” said Ms Tisa Ho, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

The budget of the 45th Festival is approximately HK$120 million. Secured government baseline funding for the Festival in 2017 represents roughly 14% of HKAF’s total income, with another 9% specially provided by the Government for programmes celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the HKSAR. Around 28% of the Festival’s income comes from the box office, and another 32% comes from sponsorship and donations from corporations, individuals, and charitable foundations. It is anticipated that the remaining 17% will come from the Government’s new matching scheme, which matches income generated through private sector sponsorships and donations. [The projected 45th HKAF income sources can be found on the attached statistics factsheet]

The idea of ‘In the moment’ is embedded in the narrative of the exciting classical and contemporary operas presented in this year’s HKAF.

With a special focus on Czech music, the 2017 HKAF welcomes more than 180 musicians and singers from the Janáček Opera of the National Theatre Brno, together with world class soloists, in an extraordinary musical celebration featuring operatic, choral and symphonic masterpieces by Janáček and Dvořák, including Janáček’s Sinfonietta and Dvořák’s Stabat Mater. There is also a beautifully crafted opera production of The Makropulos Case, revealing the curse of immortality. Opened in 1884, the National Theatre Brno premiered almost all of Janáček’s operas.

The lavish operatic co-production between San Francisco Opera and the HKAF marks another milestone for the Festival. Based on the masterpiece by Cao Xueqin, Dream of the Red Chamber is led by a dream creative team. Hong Kong is the first Asian city to see this new opera after its September 2016 premiere in San Francisco.

This year’s Kun Opera production is an epic tale of star-crossed lovers that spans the worlds of men, ghosts and deities. With Zhang Jun leading a cast of stars in Kun and Beijing opera, Blossoms on a Spring Moonlit Night unites the leading lights of Chinese opera and theatre from mainland China and Taiwan.

Written by celebrated Cantonese opera performer Loong Koon-tin, emerging star Lai Yiu-wai, and Chinese opera educator and actor Lau Shun, the ground-breaking new Cantonese Opera Emperor Wu of Han and his Jester Strategist charts the start of Emperor Wu’s reign and the exceptional personalities within his court.

The choice of repertoire in many of our music programmes includes pieces which mark pivotal moments from times past, presented for us to enjoy and experience in the present.

In addition to the two orchestral and choral concerts performed by the National Theatre Brno, three orchestras from three continents bring colourful and richly orchestrated works. From Turkey, the rising Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra explores the eastern roots of 19th- and 20th-century European music under the baton of Sascha Goetzel. Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic perform two concerts of powerful Nordic and Russian music, featuring the enthralling Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk. From Gershwin’s masterpiece Rhapsody in Blue to Saint-Saëns’ ground-breaking Organ Symphony, Louis Langrée leads the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a concert that features well-loved works by celebrated American and French composers.
Blending voices and instruments, the multi-award winning Concerto Italiano delivers its definitive performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers for the Blessed Virgin. The angelic voice and shimmering harp of Arianna Savall, daughter of the viol master Jordi Savall, will be heard in her performance with the folk and early music ensemble Hirundo Maris. Hong Kong-born countertenor Chan Ka-bo performs two concerts with guitarist and theorbist Kristo Käo, singing beautiful melodies from the Baroque and Renaissance eras, as well as lieder by German and Estonian composers.

An array of established ensembles and soloists also takes the stage this year. Directing from the keyboard, the superb pianist Piotr Anderszewski leads the famous Camerata Salzburg in a concert featuring works by Mozart and Haydn. Named in honour of the great Soviet-era violinist David Oistrakh, four Russian virtuosi perform profound string quartets by Haydn, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Paganini. Praised by Richter as “the greatest woman pianist of our time”, renowned Georgian pianist Elisso Virsaladze performs in both a concert with the outstanding David Oistrakh Quartet and also in a solo recital featuring her signature Schumann repertoire. Superstar violinist Ray Chen performs showpieces by Beethoven, Ysaÿe and Monti in a recital that demonstrates the full range of his virtuosity.

On the home front, a special HKAF commission and production reunites award-winning composer Chan Hing-yan, director Helen Lai and conductor Lio Kuokman. Under the Jockey Club Local Creative Talents Series, this Hong Kong Odyssey concert features more than a hundred musicians and artists in a celebration of poetry, music and song that has been inspired by Hong Kong history and culture. To tie in with their theme of Chinese Music without Bounds, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra’s International Composition Competition Finals concert offers a platform for composers to share their artistic experiences in Chinese orchestral music. The Hong Kong Sinfonietta performs with the distinguished Taiwanese huqin player Wang Ying-chieh in Chan Hing-yan’s huqin concerto Ethereal is the Moon, and the same concert features local pianist Colleen Lee in Ravel’s Concerto.
25 years after the premature death of the legendary musician Serge Gainsbourg, the singer and actress Jane Birkin brings her Gainsbourg Symphonic tribute to Hong Kong, celebrating Gainsbourg’s pop music legacy. Drummer and three-time Grammy Award winner Terri Lyne Carrington heads a team of top jazz instrumentalists and powerful vocalists in a sizzling programme of love songs, R&B, and soul classics. Pioneers of gypsy techno-rock, acclaimed film director Emir Kusturica and his rambunctious No Smoking Orchestra will bring audiences to their feet cheering for more. For the third season, World Music Weekend sets off on an incredible musical journey, bringing three concerts that embrace the classical sounds of Mali and Turkey, while also showcasing the passion and poetry of Portuguese fado with a new Spanish twist.

The idea of ‘In the moment’ is also embedded in major local and international theatre productions.

In the year approaching the US presidential election, The Public Theater from New York stages Richard Nelson’s The Gabriels, a trilogy following the Gabriel family – each play is a special moment in the course of eight months. Another American story comes from Pulitzer Prize-winner Arthur Miller, whose gripping and profoundly moving play All My Sons is staged by Rose Theatre Kingston under the direction of Michael Rudman. From Ireland, the multi award-winning Druid Theatre Company re-stages their Tony Award-winning play The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

Verbal conjuror Thaddeus Phillips takes audiences on a journey to experience 17 very different moments of crossing borders in his one-man play 17 Border Crossings. Norwegian storyteller Jon Fosse has been hailed as Norway’s new Ibsen; and in an extraordinary staging by De Utvalgte (The Chosen Ones), Fosse’s Shadows is delivered via video projection by children with four elderly performers moving around the stage in silence. Born from the imagination of French illustrator Pef, the fantastical story of Dark Circus is animated onstage by STEREOPTIK’s two talented visual artists, who are at once illustrators, musicians, projectionists, shadow-puppeteers, cameramen and sound designers. In the house of a typical bourgeois Cairo family, 11 exceptional actors gather around the table in The Last Supper, a darkly funny and scathing portrait of Egypt following the revolution in Tahrir Square and the chaos of the Arab Spring.

Family dinner moments are also presented in the new HKAF commissioned trilogy A Floating Family. These three standalone plays portray four siblings and their extended family over three dinners in the course of two decades, charting their lives as they ebb and flow alongside Hong Kong through political, economic and social changes. Created by award-winning playwright Loong Man-hong and established director Fong Chun-kit, the trilogy stars some of the most sought-after names of Hong Kong theatre.

This year’s dance programme exhibits a wide range of values and aesthetics, including a mix of new works and classics which will transport the audience to different points in time.

The renowned Bayerisches Staatsballett (Bavarian State Ballet) makes its first full-company visit to Hong Kong under the leadership of its Artistic Director Igor Zelensky. Re-staged by former Paris Opera Ballet star and Nureyev disciple Patrice Bart with original choreography by Marius Petipa, the Staatsballett’s lavish production of La Bayadère opens the 45th HKAF. A superb mixed bill from the company’s next generation of stars includes the Hong Kong première of Oskar Schlemmer’s 1922 The Triadic Ballet, as well as works by Nacho Duato, George Balanchine and Richard Siegal.

Explosive and original, Canada’s Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal brings four energetic and breathtaking works by Benjamin Millepied, Itzik Galili and Andonis Foniadakis. Pina Bausch’s seminal works Café Müller and The Rite of Spring will be staged by her incomparable Tanztheater Wuppertal. With a specially designed sonic set that responds to the performers’ steps, ETM: Double Down by tap dancer and choreographer Michelle Dorrance is a perfect fusion of movement and sound.

For family audiences, a brilliant participatory presentation of Tetris by Arch8 swaps blocks for bodies in a performance space that defies gravity. The ninth edition of Asia Pacific Dance Platform showcases two pieces by Turkish and Australian choreographers who explore and redefine the boundaries and meanings of dance duets. Celebrating its sixth edition, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Contemporary Dance Series is growing with choreographic stars in new formats. This edition features familiar elements while striding into uncharted territories. With international collaboration, cross-discipline commissions and a mixed bill showcasing emerging talent, it brings together trained professionals with non-dancers to explore the art of creativity and movement.

With support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charites Trust, The Super Pool is coming to Hong Kong in celebration of the HKAF’s 45th Anniversary. Designed by renowned new media artist Jen Lewin, this gigantic computerised installation fusing light, sound, technology and human interaction has dazzled participants in more than 30 festivals around the world. It will be staged throughout the Festival in different spaces, welcoming participants of all ages.

Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, HKAF’s Young Friends continues to provide an excellent platform for young people in Hong Kong to get involved in the arts. As well as 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 tailor-made Young Friends Specials events, with customised educational appreciation guides to supplement their experience with additional information about the performances.

To develop members’ comprehensive understanding of the arts, Young Friends brings programme-based pre-show workshops led by local artists to secondary schools. As well as performance-related activities, Young Friends members can also participate in arts administration training workshops during the summer to gain insights into the cultural industry.

Topping off the impressive list of live performances, Festival PLUS offers audiences an exciting range of activities that enhance their Festival experience. The 2017 PLUS programme features a series of workshops, masterclasses, talks and backstage moments that give audiences a closer look at the creative process for various HKAF performances. Two Tony Award-winning theatre greats Garry Hynes and Marie Mullen join HKAF for its Distinguished Cultural Leader Series to share their insight into 40 years of theatre production. A unique six-month artist-in-residence outreach project offers local students opportunities to learn from distinguished overseas and local artists. Another spectacular season of Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema continues to showcase magnificent classics at Broadway Cinema. Details of the full PLUS programme, including masterclasses, workshops, backstage tours and more will be announced in December.

The Programme & Booking Guide is now available at all URBTIX outlets. Advance Bookings for the 45th HKAF are accepted by fax, post, or on the Festival website ( from 12:00am on 7 October to 11:59pm on 30 November 2016. Audiences can enjoy up to 15% discount on their bookings during the Advance Booking period.

Counter Bookings start on 10 December. Patrons can book their tickets at URBTIX (online at, by phone (852) 2111 5999 or at URBTIX outlets.) Tickets to the performances held at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts will also be available at HK Ticketing outlets.

Launched in 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is a major international arts festival committed to enriching the cultural life of the city. In February and March every year, the Festival presents 1,400 of the world’s top artists and stars of tomorrow in approximately 120 performances, placing equal importance on great traditions and contemporary creations. The Festival also commissions and produces work in theatre, music, chamber opera and contemporary dance by Hong Kong’s own creative talents and emerging artists, many of which have had successful subsequent runs both locally and overseas. The Festival also presents over 300 “PLUS” and educational activities that offer diverse arts experiences to the community as well as tertiary, secondary and primary school students.

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