The Cultural Presentations Section offers music, dance, Chinese opera, theatre and multimedia performing arts programmes throughout the year. These programmes range from the traditional to the cutting edge and offer Hong Kong audiences the best of local artists and international stars. During the 2008-09 year, more than 1 000 performances took place, attracting a total audience of more than 466 000.
The highlights of the year's music programmes included the Los Angeles Philharmonic in two concerts at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen and featuring virtuoso pianist Yefim Bronfman, which were relayed live at the Piazza for the enjoyment of nearly 7 000 audience members. Other major music events included Puccini's Madama Butterfly, produced by Musica Viva, and Verdi's Don Carlo, co-presented with Opera Hong Kong and involving both local and visiting artists. Support was also given to The Chopin Society of Hong Kong in its presentation of The 2nd Hong Kong International Piano Competition and to Hong Kong Composers' Guild Limited by hosting Musicarama. Other top-notch events throughout the year included the Encore Series featuring Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) and two pianists, Leif Ove Andsnes and Evgeny Kissin, and the Jazz Up Series with the Sadao Watanabe Group, the McCoy Tyner Quartet, the Borodin Quartet, and Fabio Biondi with Europa Galante. The City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong has gradually achieved significant local attention, both through its innovative programming and by bringing in outstanding soloists from abroad.
|Verdi's operatic masterpiece Don Carlo makes its grand debut in Hong Kong in a co-production by Opera Hong Kong, Hawaii Opera Theatre and Vancouver Opera.|
The Royal Ballet UK thrilled Hong Kong audiences with two of its signature productions, Sylvia and Manon, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company performed six of Taylor's versatile and diversified works dating from 1977 to 2008. The Department also presented the first-ever Dance Day in February 2009 at Tsuen Wan Town Hall to promote dance to the local community. This event showcased local dance groups, including DanceArt Hong Kong, Unlock Dancing Plaza and Y-Space, district arts troupes under the Association of Hong Kong Dance Organisations, and Tsuen Wan Town Hall's venue partners, namely, the Hong Kong Dance Company and the Ming Ri Institute for Arts Education, amongst other arts groups. The fun-filled event was followed by a post-event exhibition.
|Performed in Hong Kong for the very first time by The Royal Ballet UK, MacMillan's Manon is an extravaganza featuring lyrical music, lavish sets and glamorous costumes. It is famed for showcasing the skill and dramatic power of its dancers.|
The production of Macbeth by Scotland's Theatre Babel was a major hit, with a record full-house for all five of its performances in Hong Kong. In addition to visiting companies, the vitality and creativity of local theatre groups were prominent in 2008-09, which featured performances by the Edward Lam Dance Theatre, the 7A Class Drama Group, Drama Gallery and Theatre du Pif, to name just a few. Thematic series such as the Brecht Festival and Playwright Scheme III 2008 were also organised to enhance support for local artists, and a special promotional campaign for local small and medium theatre groups was launched with encouraging results.
On the multi-arts front, Robert Lepage, the contemporary Canadian visual theatre icon, offered a humorous and mesmerising experience to audiences with an awesome performance by famed actor Yves Jacques in The Andersen Project, one of the artistic highlights of the year. Performances by such local groups as the Ming Ri Institute for Arts Education, the Shu Ning Presentation Unit, Jumbo Kids Theatre and Make Friends with Puppets also added spice and variety to the Hong Kong arts and culture scene. To provide family programmes during festive periods, two annual series, Cheers! and Family Fiesta, which featured both local and visiting groups, were organised during the Christmas and Easter holidays, respectively.
Promoting appreciation of Chinese opera is another of the Department's key objectives. The Peking Opera Theatre of Shanghai showcased the modern full-length Peking operas The Azalea Mountain and Taking Tiger Mountain by Stratagem, and Peking opera virtuosi and the Mei Lanfang Company of the Peking Opera Theatre of Beijing stepped onto the stage in Peking Opera Classics. Locally renowned actress Tang Yuen-ha of the Jingkun Theatre brought audiences the award-winning Peking opera The House Wulong, winner of a Special Jury's Prize and The Best Actor Award at the Third Festival of Traditional Chinese Opera in Paris. The Sixth Cantonese Opera Day was organised on the last Sunday of November 2008 to bring this traditional art form closer to the public. The Young Cantonese Opera Artists Series featured performances by local Cantonese opera troupes that were designed not only to preserve this delicate, indigenous form of art, but also to inject it with new energy.
|The Peking Opera Theatre of Shanghai performing the renowned modern Peking opera The Azalea Mountain, a piece that praises the bravery and wisdom of its heroine Ke Xiang.|
The Department is actively exploring additional performance venues other than those under its management to support the growth and development of local artists in the community. In 2008-09, a number of performances were staged at the HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity, the Nan Lian Garden and the Tin Ching Community Hall in Tin Shui Wai, as well as at the auditoriums of various universities. This new initiative demonstrates the Department's concerted efforts to strengthen ties with and support the local arts sector.The Department also co-operated with the Consulates-General of different countries and with various cultural organisations during the year. These sponsored and jointly presented events helped foster cultural exchange and understanding and further affirmed Hong Kong's reputation as Asia's world city.