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Making beautiful music - together

Updated: 2013-01-18 17:22
By Chen Nan ( China Daily)
Making beautiful music - together

Cho-liang Lin, artistic director of Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival.

For 53-year-old violinist Cho-liang Lin, whose career has spanned the globe for more than two decades, it's very exciting to see many musical talents from China taking center-stage around the world. But he also has noticed that the focus is primarily on solo playing.

"The thinking is: Let's see who can be the next competition winner and who will be the big star," he says. "The idea of learning to make music with others has been an afterthought, but the trend has begun to shift."

When he was appointed artistic director of the Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival two years ago, he seized the chance to show the beauty of chamber music and the idea of playing with other musicians.

In the 2013 Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival, which runs until Jan 23, Lin is happy to see more eagerness from musicians from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan to participate in the festival.

Five mainland musicians, including pianist Chen Sa, 10 locals from Hong Kong including cellist Richard Bamping, and international artists will share the stage at six concerts featuring classics, jazz and a Chinese New Year special.

"Chamber music is still young in Asia. But with the growing maturity of the musicians from China, I hope they will promote the idea of chamber music and bring more chamber music to the audiences," Lin says. "I see a lot of potential here but it will take work and patience."

Making beautiful music - together

Retail therapy 

Founder and executive director of Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival Andrea Fessler agrees that chamber music is still at infancy in Asia.

She recalls that when she gave up a legal career to organize the first chamber music festival in Hong Kong, "Everyone told us that we were crazy to put on a chamber music festival, because nobody was interested in chamber music here".

"But as soon as we put the festival on, everybody said such a chamber music festival is always needed," she says.

In 2009, the first year of the festival, there were 10 musicians and 13 events. Now it's grown to more than 25 musicians and about 50 events.

In this year's festival, free events such as community concerts, workshops for amateur musicians and master classes will bring chamber music to more people.

Fessler says the free programs are targeted especially at young people who don't usually have the opportunity to see a live performance of world-class music.

"Chamber music is an essential part of a musical education. There are so many kids studying an instrument to a very high level in China, yet very few play in small ensembles. We are trying to encourage more students to give playing chamber music a try," she says.

"Once they experience that special moment where they are communicating with their friends through music, they might develop a lifelong hobby of music-making."

Making beautiful music - together

Perfect form for a tea ceremony

Lin, who took up the violin at the age of 4, says that it's great to give children exposure to good music. But he also points out that there is only one Lang Lang and one Yo-Yo Ma. "So parents have to realize that it will take incredible amount of work, dedication, luck and great talent to see one blossom in a million blossoms into a world-class superstar," he says.

He notes that China is now going through a big concert-hall building phase similar to what Japan went through in the 1980s.

"All these concert halls will need programs and audience. So the next few years will be the golden age for being in China," he says.

"But we need to remember that educating young talents will not be enough. We need to educate the audience as well.

"Getting the audience to become interested in music, in musicians and in giving concerts proper respect is still a work in progress," he says. "China needs sophisticated audience."