In one way or another, this seemingly never-ending pandemic has greatly affected each and every one of us. It has severely restricted our freedoms and abilities to travel, affected our livelihoods, and occasionally left deep scars on our psychological wellbeing. In my personal opinion, it has been particularly cruel to the Arts and music, not only for audiences, but also for performers and events organizers. The 2nd Hong Kong Early Music Festival 2021, according to Karen Yeung, the Founder, Artistic & Programme Director of Concerto da Camera, envisioned “live concerts and related activities, and face-to-face performances presented by local and overseas musicians.” Given the ongoing pandemic situation, however, the organizers had to think on their feet. Yeung explains, “this year, we had to present the festival in an extraordinary manner; all events will be streamed online and thus shared with worldwide audiences.”
2nd HK Early Music Festival 2021: A Historical Journey Trailer
The Hong Kong Early Music Festival was established to “provide a unique platform for music practitioners and researchers to exchange knowledge, experiences, and foster collaboration in the area of historically informed performance.” According to Yeung, “it invites local audiences to learn about music from the 17th and 18th centuries, and provides a platform for Hong Kong and overseas artists for cultural exchange. We strive to continue this festival to cultivate and sustain interests in historically informed performance in Asia.”
2nd HK Early Music Festival 2021: “The Sound of Chopin” Documentary Trailer
“Concerto da Camera,” an innovative chamber music and arts initiative founded in 2004 by musician Karen Yeung and lawyer Lily Ma, presents the Hong Kong Early Music Festival. The primary aim, from the very beginning, “was to establish a not-for-profit arts organization that provides a “performing arts platform to promote classical music to the public.” Yeung explains, “Music can enhance our life quality… To appreciate music, especially classical music, we don’t need to be experts, but can be guided by our senses and our emotions… Music can spark creativity in life.”
2nd Hong Kong Music Early Festival 2021’s Music Video “Life is a Dream”
Taking the Festival online provides a platform for education videos, documentary and concert videos, but also music videos in the style of dramatic short films. The Amsterdam-based writer and filmmaker Daan Vree tells the story of Yuna, an 8-year girl waiting for her pianist mother, who is making music with a young couple living in the castle. The castle in question is beautiful Loenersloot Castle in the Dutch province of Utrecht, and it is filled with music provided by two distinguished young singers: Hong Kong-born soprano Kitty Lai and tenor Edmond Chu, along with solo pieces played by Japanese pianist Kaoru Iwamura on a Broadwood square piano. According to the director, “the film is based on research into the history of the castle, the texts of the songs and the stories behind their composition. The music is mostly about love and longing for each other, and we have the song about life that is just a dream.”
2nd HK Music Festival 2021: The Pipe Organ in Waltershausen “Recital by Stefan Kießling”
The theme of the 2021 festival is “A Historical Journey,” and it features a collaboration of talents with different expertise. The organizers take audiences on a world tour, “visiting various historical places such as the St. Stephen’s Chapel in Hong Kong, the Town Church of Waltershausen in Germany, the Loenersloot Castle in the Netherlands and George Sand’s Mansion in France.” Concurrently, audiences will enjoy demonstrations, lectures and concerts played on original historical musical instruments, such as the 1730 Trost baroque organ, an 1829 Broadwood Square Piano and early Pleyel pianos. Yeung is convinced that “culture and music lovers will delight in seeing all these historic locations, and treasure the experience of hearing historical instruments.”
The Festival also includes an educational series titled, “Getting to know the Harpsichord,” a highlight that can be enjoyed by audiences of all age and musical backgrounds. The current pandemic situation is presenting new challenges, and the 2nd Hong Kong Early Music Festival 2021 is rising to that occasion. In an entertaining and thoroughly modern way, they have succeeded in reminding us that the Arts and Music are an integral part of our daily lives, and that creativity cannot be contained by quarantines and travel restrictions.
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2nd HK Early Music Festival 2021 “Back to the Renaissance”
The 2nd Hong Kong Early Music Festival 2021 is available online.