The 52nd HK Arts Festival

Rising Korean Orchestra Presents a Three-Fold Musical Experience

Text / Rebecca Lee

The eight-year-old Hankyung arte Philharmonic may have a somewhat concise portfolio,  but its audience throughout South Korea is anything but concise. After being founded by the Korea Economic Daily, the orchestra quickly became a household name throughout its home country, not only due to its energetic live performances  but also because it operates a television channel that broadcasts classical concerts around the clock. Ahead of Hankyung's appearances at the 52nd Hong Kong Arts Festival, FestMag caught up with renowned Hong Kong-born conductor Wilson Ng to discuss the power and influence of the orchestra, which he has collaborated with on multiple occasions.

Ng notes that Hankyung, which has always been dedicated to promoting classical music, has not only catered to existing listeners, but also always aspired to widen the audience base. As a privately owned orchestra inaugurated in 2015, Hankyung became so popular that all of its concerts during the past eight years have been fully booked. And those unable to see the orchestra in person have benefited from its paid television channel arte TV, which presents concerts by Hankyung and other orchestras from around the world. Ng notes that Hankyung is in a unique position to also have the TV channel, given the high production costs of pre-recorded concert programmes around the world.

Hankyung also regularly organises concerts that are tailored for specific types of audiences, such as concerts to thank medical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ng has conducted the orchestra at concerts for the fire service, the police, and their families. Usually at these concerts, the orchestra performs celebratory and renowned works that are specially chosen for the occasions.

Hankyung will be giving three performances at the 52nd HKAF, including playing alongside Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company at Le Corsaire, a family concert and a symphonic concert, which are all regular programmes of the ensemble. The orchestra has regularly appeared with various ballet troupes, and many of its South Korean followers will recall when Hankyung presented Peter and the Wolf with sand painting at a family concert, not to mention its sought-after symphonic concerts.

Ng will be conducting Hankyung at the family concert and symphonic concert. The family concert will feature the famous Peter and the Wolf and a symphonic work called Insect World, created by the late Hong Kong composer Doming Lam. The conductor points out that Insect World, in particular, will be an exceptional piece for the local audience to experience live due to its extensive instrumentation. Meanwhile, the audience at the symphonic concert will be treated to a performance of The Faint Ginkgo by Ye Xiaogang, a Chinese composer. Ng says he treasures opportunities to perform Chinese composers' works and believes the piece by Ye perfectly captures the beauty of Chinese culture, adding that the harmonies in Ye's works resonate with global audiences.

Joining Hankyung at the symphonic concert is pianist Minsoo Sohn, "whose renditions have been exquisite and earnest, characterised by a philosophical execution of notes that is always intriguing", says Ng. The pianist will play Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op 30, the piece that won his protégé Yunchan Lim the Gold Medal at the 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

At Hankyung's 2024 HKAF appearances, local audiences can expect brilliant performances from an emerging orchestra playing with great finesse.

Hankyung arte Philharmonic

Date:12 Mar 2024

Venue:Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre