|Chen's CD released in January|
But first -- the first part of the concert.
Yip Wing-sie is still going strong as the city's only female conductor of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta which went professional in 1999. She gave a good introduction in Chinese and English explaining that every year the Sinfonietta participates in the Hong Kong Arts Festival, it commissions a piece by a local composer, and invites a young up-and-coming Asian performer to play with the orchestra.
The commissioned piece was by Tang Lok-yin, called Visage which has its world premiere. Yip gave a hint to to the audience to think of images of the brightly coloured masks used in Peking opera when listening to the music. As someone who is not too familiar with contemporary music, it seemed like things were out of tune or not in time, but did evoke the Peking opera stage with lots of percussion. The piece ended with one of the horns blowing air sound like a whispering cloud.
Tang then rushed to the stage and thanked the orchestra for playing her piece. It's quite brave for the Hong Kong Sinfonietta to commission pieces, but it also shows support for local artists and makes it more community oriented.
The next piece was Bela Bartok's Divertimento for String Orchestra in three movements, and only the string section was on stage. It was a robust piece with hints of Hungarian folk songs in it, typical of Bartok. Early on in the piece, there was something wrong with concert master James Cuddeford's violin and he switched violins with his colleague who quietly walked off stage. He came back after the first movement was over and returned the violin to Cuddeford who had to play a few solos in the piece.
|Chen's earlier publicity photo|
And that's my feeling about Chen -- he's definitely a diamond in the rough and while technically mastering the piece there wasn't that much depth in showing his passion for the music. Nevertheless, we all sat there so quiet that a pin could drop while he performed his solos throughout the three movements. And in the end the audience clapped non stop for him until he finally did an encore with the Paganini Caprice No. 24 in A minor, again a skillful display.
When I attended concerts in Beijing, at the end women in uniforms would walk up on stage with bouquets of flowers and it would have been appropriate here for Chen to have received one, but none was had.
|Chen's more recent photo|
He didn't know the people he was with, but they seemed to be wealthy arts patrons. They all congratulated him on his performance to which he humbly thanked them in his Aussie accent.
Chen is definitely one to watch in the future and hopefully he grows into a mature and gracious artist.