“Beau soir en Hong Kong” poster
Hong Kong music lovers were treated to a special event on Sunday, 30 June, at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts (HKAPA) in Wanchai. The event by the name Beau soir en Hong Kong, organised by the IAMA, was an evening of guzheng, erhu and other stringed instruments, performed by an outstanding group of musicians, headed up by Lunlun Zou, the Guzheng Master, and Guo Gan, the exceptional Chinese erhu player who now lives in Paris. The two virtuosos were assisted by Chass Wong Ling Yan of the HKAPA on the Pipa. Samuel Yeung accompanied on piano.

The performances were a mixture of traditional Chinese melodies from the past as well as a few contemporary pieces and selected works by Debussy. The auditorium was full with hardly an empty seat to be seen. The crowd was also quite familiar with the works played and even applauded after moments of extraordinary virtuosity, displayed with consummate skill by Ms Zou and Mr Guo, both individually and together.

A simple but quite appropriate background of Monet’s Autumn on the Seine at Argenteuil was an elegant and most fitting backdrop to the evening. Many of the Chinese pieces they played are extremely well known and popular. Songs of Fishing Boats at Dusk, Butterfly Lovers – metamorphosis, A moonlit Night on the Spring River and the ever popular and quite difficult Horse Racing which Mr Guo performed flawlessly.

After his solo, Ms Zou played The Fight with the Typhoon, another musical challenge, but this time for the guzheng. She plays with great emotion, impeccable technique and elegant style with almost balletic movements of the hands and arms.

Lunlun Zou and Guo Gan
Mr Guo’s presence was also quite commanding. He sits, almost like a Zen monk, shaved head held high, almost in a trance. But then comes the music and all who are there are transformed and moved into his world of musical images. His performance of The moon reflecting in Erquan Pool was quite magnificent. “It is a piece traditionally perceived as tragic and thus players tend to add bitter emotion to it. However, I don’t think it is necessary to emphasise the bitterness. I wanted to bring out the sheer beauty of the music itself to the audience,” he said.

Adrian Walter, the Director of the HKAPA, was delighted with the event. “The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts was delighted to be the venue for Sunday’s concert by Guzheng master, Lunlun Zou. A beautifully performed and varied programme highlighted the extraordinary ability of the performers and the unique expressive range of the instruments,” he said.

As the director of the HKAPA, Mr Walter knows what he is talking about when he describes the performers. “The drama of the Guzheng solos were matched by the sublime and reflective solos by Erhu master, Guo Gan. The quality of the performers who joined Ms Zou were of the highest order, a quality that characterised the afternoon. I was delighted to see one of APA’s alumni sharing the stage providing evocative pipa solos and accompaniments.”

“Beau soir en Hong Kong”
Dr Raymond Chan, Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Oregon Scientific, said he was extremely pleased with the event. “Our young people here in Hong Kong are very aware of how the modern world works but we hope they can also be aware of the heritage from which they come. I believe very strongly that the promotion of the arts is vital to a complete life, even in today’s electronic age. Understanding and appreciating the music of the past is one way to do that,” he said.

Dr Chan was especially happy with the large number of young people who turned up for the concert. No tradition will be able to be maintained if the youth do not take it up. It would seem that the guzheng and the erhu are in good shape at this time.

Among the audience were these honourable guests: HKSAR Financial Secretary John Tsang and his wife, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Liaison Office, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs, Oregon Scientific Global Group Chairman Dr. Raymond Chan, Ms Florence Hui, Director-General of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups Dr Rosanna Wong, Chancellor Timothy W. Tong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts Council Chairman William Leung, JP, mirror, Executive President Xu Xinying cultural enterprises and others.

IAMA wishes to express sincere gratitude to: Oregon Scientific, Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Deloitte, AIA, AVIS Macau and others.

Photos from this event can be seen here.