In view of the reopening of performing venues on 19 February, the Hong Kong Arts Festival announces changes to in-venue programmes. Please visit this page for details.

The 39th Hong Kong Arts Festival 2011

October 05th, 2010

Today the Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) announced details of the forthcoming 39th HKAF 2011, to be staged in 15 different venues over 39 days — from 17 February through to 27 March 2011 — with more than 200 performances and related events featuring 38 ensembles or solo artists from overseas and 16 from Hong Kong.

"This is an even bigger festival than in previous years, with a significant increase in the total number of tickets available to Festival audiences and the number of performances to be presented. There is also an increase in the duration of the Festival. The result is a richly packed 39 days, on occasion with as many as 18 performances on the same day, bringing the vibrancy and cultural richness of life in Hong Kong to yet a higher level.” (Mr Charles Lee, Chairman of HKAF)

At the media briefing today, Tisa Ho, Executive Director of HKAF, highlighted the following:

  • headliners making their Hong Kong debut include Cecilia Bartoli, the New York City Ballet, the Berliner Ensemble, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull;
  • Leipzig's three major music institutions, Leipzig Opera, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and St Thomas Boys Choir (Thomanerchor), appear together in Hong Kong for the first time within the same week, bringing six performances;
  • the "New Stage" series, a new initiative in local productions launched this year to further extend the Festival's commitment to supporting local talent;
  • a historic third run of the Festival's multiple award winning commission and production Murder in San Jose; and
  • Power Plant, a large scale project at the Kowloon Walled City Park, which takes the HKAF outdoors and to a mass audience.

The budget for the 39th HKAF is estimated to be $97 million, with a subvention of $33.18 million from the Government through the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, a donation of about $8.3 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust in support of three pillar programmes, and projected revenues of $18.5 million in sponsorships and donations, and $37 million in ticket sales.

This is a very strong year for music. Drawing on great classical music traditions, three major cultural institutions from Leipzig, once home to both Johann Sebastian Bach and Richard Wagner, are invited to the 39th HKAF: the St Thomas Boys Choir (Thomanerchor) for whom Bach wrote many great liturgical works as their cantor; the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the oldest civic concert orchestra in the world, and the Leipzig Opera, resident of the third oldest opera house in Europe. The Orchestra performs two concerts, led by Riccardo Chailly; accompany the Choir in performing Bach's masterpieces; and provide the orchestral support for the Leipzig Opera's production of Wagner's monumental opera Tristan und Isolde.

Britain's oldest professional symphony orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, performs music by Elgar, Britten and Sibelius, under the baton of Sir Mark Elder. Switzerland's Basel Chamber Orchestra, with conductor Kristjan Jarvi and mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager feature Wagner's Wesendonk Lieder in a programme which also includes work by Sibelius, Jaggi and Grieg. The Bach Collegium Japan performs Bach's St Matthew Passion and selected cantatas — repertoire in which they are acknowledged specialists; complemented by a harpsichord recital by Collegium founder and conductor, Masaaki Suzuki. Also from Japan and with conductor Alexander Lazarev and soprano Hiroko Kouda, the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra performs works by Prokofiev, Britten, Gliere and others.

In addition, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edo de Waart, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta under Yip Wing-sie and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra with Yan Huichang all perform specially designed Festival programmes for the 39th HKAF.

Three contrasting keyboard artists are presented: piano virtuoso Cyprien Katsaris, master harpsichord player Masaaki Suzuki, and flamboyant, star organist Cameron Carpenter, adding to the great music to be enjoyed.

The ExxonMobil Vision series continues to nurture exciting local artists: Wong Wai-yin plays Schumann, Rautavaara and transcriptions and arrangements of Verdi and others; and twin brothers Chan Chi-chun and Chan Chi-yuk present a dizi concert featuring Northern and Southern styles. The Credit Suisse Emerging Artists Series continues to introduce some of the hottest new talent on the international scene: cellist Nicolas Alstaedt, oboist Alexei Ogrintchouk, and the Elias String Quartet. And new to this year's Festival, the Music Nomads series explores the alternative Asian music scene with: Songs from the Grasslands by Hanggai and Mamer & IZ; Requiem for Flowers by Chet Lam and Shin Wong; and A. S. The Percussionist – Singing Hands by Arai Soichiro. Adding to the wealth of contemporary music, Bang On A Can All-Stars will be in Hong Kong for a weeklong residency and a performance which may include a piece created during the week.

The world's top performers to be presented in the 39th HKAF include: bestselling mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli in two concerts of contrasting programmes, Ute Lemper performing works by the great Astor Piazzolla — with members of his original Piazzolla Quintet and the maestro's grandson; and Marianne Faithfull and Elvis Costello both performing intimate sets — Ms Faithfull with a small band for accompaniment and Mr Costello with just his guitar and spectacles.

Two of the most highly regarded and groundbreaking ensembles in the world are at the festival. Over five days and seven performances the New York City Ballet will present a selection from works by Balanchine and Robbins, from Serenade to Dances at a Gathering, to West Side Story Suite, and Concerto DSCH by Alexei Ratmansky. In honour of the great Pina Bausch, the Tanztheater Wuppertal returns to Hong Kong to perform Carnations (Nelken), acknowledged as one of the greatest achievements of the legendary choreographer, on a stage covered with thousands of pink flowers.

In addition, two very different classic stories will be told in dance: The Golden Lotus, a tale of wives, concubines and desire, in a new work of choreographer Wang Yuanyuan performed by the Beijing Dance Theater; and Hobson's Choice, choreographed by David Bintley, which tells the charming story of young love, set in a bootmaker's store, and danced by the scintillating Birmingham Royal Ballet.

To add to the wealth of choices, five nights of enchantment are in store as dance-illusionists Momix bring together their best work from the past 30 years in a sensational new show, MOMIX reMIX. Both Hobson's Choice and MOMIX reMIX have been programmed especially for young audiences and families — one a classic story ballet, the other a fantastical piece of creative imagination.

The Asia Pacific Dance Platform (APDP) continues to showcase exciting choreographers/dancers in the region, and this year features solos: Q & A by daniel k (Singapore); My Shadow and Me by Justyne Li (HK); Waves by Sun-A Lee (Korea); Sepatuku (My Shoes) by Suhaili Micheline (Malaysia); and Of Mud and Dust by Elaine Kwok (HK). The APDP is now in its third year and includes workshops and discussions to be held around the performances.

Theatre and music theatre offerings in the 39th HKAF cover a wide range of styles, sources and subject matter, from Robert Wilson's brilliant production of Brecht's The Threepenny Opera performed by the Berliner Ensemble, the theatre company set-up by Bertolt Brecht himself, to Shakespeare's Macbeth. The latter is a psychologically probing production by one of the most respected companies in the UK, Cheek by Jowl, directed by the celebrated Declan Donnellan.

The Belarus Free Theatre, banned at home and distinguished by admirers like Harold Pinter, presents two plays: A Flower For Pina Bausch and Being Harold Pinter. This is visceral, intense, hard-hitting theatre. The beloved classic The Water Margin is retold in 108 Heroes, Tales from The Water Margin. An acrobatic martial arts feast created by the Contemporary Legend Theatre who are renowned for fusing Eastern and Western theatre styles. Directed by Taiwanese actor/director Wu Hsing-kuo and written by Chang Ta-chuen, with music by Hong Kong's cantopop rock star Wakin Chau, and a cast from the College of Chinese Opera, Shanghai Theatre Academy, this is a unique three city collaboration.

Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, his monument to romantic love, is a three-act opera lasting over four hours, performed by the Leipzig Opera in a sensitive production by Willy Decker, designed by Wolfgang Gussmann with Stefan Vinke and Jennifer Wilson in the principle roles, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra contributing to the impressive soundscape under the baton of Axel Kober.

In Chinese Opera, the 39th HKAF pays tribute to Cantonese Opera doyenne Fong Yim-fun, in a series of four programmes, in which Ms Nam Fung reprises Fong Yim-fun's most iconic roles with three of Cantonese Opera's most distinguished leading men: Law Kar-ying, Lung Koon-tin and Lee Lung. For fans of Beijing Opera, China's two top exponents of the jing role join forces in Hong Kong to present The Painted Faces, starring Meng Guanglu from the Tianjin Youth Peking Opera Troupe and Yang Chi from the Dalian Peking Opera Troupe.

Continuing with its programme of commissioning, producing and publishing new local theatre, the Festival presents An Ordinary Man, playwriting and directorial debut of actor Poon Chan-leung, starring Cheung Kam-ching and Louisa So. In the more experimental new initiative of the New Stage series are: Piccadilly Revisited, with music by Ruth Chan and Suki Mok and text by David Tse Ka-shing and Alice Lee, it is a multimedia exploration of the classic silent film Piccadilly (1929) and its star Anna May Wong; Tree Rhapsody, composed by Tang Lok-yin, a chamber opera about a boy, a dog and nature, performed with musicians of the Tongyeong International Music Festival of Korea; Jiao Qing, a play written by Yan Yu and directed by Chan Ping-chiu investigates the reunion of lovers from Shanghai and Hong Kong; and Recycling Times, a play directed by Ben Yuen, inspired by Czech novel Too Loud a Solitude and stars Pichead Amornsomboon (Lam Chak-kwan).

Confirming its place in local theatre, the multiple award winning Murder in San Jose written by Chong Mui-ngam and directed by Lee Chun-chow, is back for a historic third run with the original cast: Alice Lau, Tang Wai-kit and Kearen Pang.

The 39th HKAF continues in the exploration of new venues by adding the brand new Amphitheatre at the HKAPA for classical chamber music and one of the programmes from the Music Nomads series. In addition, a major project is sited at the Kowloon Walled City Park, which will be transformed into a magical wonderland of enchanting sounds and glowing lights in Power Plant, taking the Festival outdoors, to be shared by the whole family. The 39th HKAF continues to present PLUS performances and events to allow a deeper engagement, and will include opportunities to meet Festival artists, participate in backstage tours, workshops, masterclasses, a symposium and other activities.

The Festival's Young Friends Scheme continues to nurture interest among students, and half-price student tickets are offered at selected prices, thanks to donations from supportive foundations and generous individuals who share the HKAF's commitment to investing in future audiences and nurturing a love of the arts.

The Programme & Booking Guide is available at all URBTIX outlets from 6 October 2010.

Audio and video clips giving a preview to selected programmes are available on the HKAF website.

A brand new iPhone App is now available with programme details, as well as giving quick access to video and audio clips of selected programmes, photos, ticketing information and venue directions.

Advance Bookings for the 39th HKAF will be accepted by post, fax or on the HKAF website ( from 6 October to 26 November, 2010.*

Counter Bookings will start on 4 December 2010. Patrons can book their tickets at URBTIX (Book online at, by phone 2111 5999 or at URBTIX outlets).*

For further enquiries, please contact Ms Katy Cheng, Marketing Director, on 2824 3555 or

Ms Alexia Chow (Theatre, Dance, Chinese Opera and Special Events)
Direct Line: 2828 4933, Email:

Mr Ruskin Leung (Opera and Music)
Direct Line: 2828 4931, Email:

* Tickets to Power Plant will be available at all URBTIX outlets and from 6 Dec 2010. Bookings will not be accepted during the Advance Booking period.

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