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Violin Superstar Joshua Bell, Clarence Mak's New Work


Hong Kong, 12 Aug 2004 – Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) will open its widely-anticipated 2004/05 Season with two concerts featuring superstar violinist Joshua Bell. A highlight of the programme is Bell’s performance as the soloist in Brahms’ Violin Concerto, with original cadenzas by the gifted violinist. Also featured are the world premiere of Clarence Mak’s Voice of the Harbour, as well as Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 by the HKPO. Led by HKPO Principal Conductor Samuel Wong, the two performances will be held on 10 & 11 September (Fri & Sat) at 8pm in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. Joshua Bell will also be greeting the audience in the autograph sessions after both performances.

Grammy-Award winning violinist Joshua Bell is one of the world’s best-loved soloists. His warm stage presence is reflected in the tenderness of his violin playing, but when commanding virtuosity is called for, his flawless technique and compelling musical imagination takes over. Bell performs with the world’s best orchestras and conductors, often selling out the house. While Bell’s violin performance on The Red Violin earned the film an Academy Award for best soundtrack, in real life he owns a violin equally legendary. Sold to Bell in 2001 for nearly USD 4 million, the 1713 Gibson Stradivarius violin has a glorious red garnish and a grime dark history, which was not revealed until a half-century after it was stolen the second time, in a courtroom testimony of a deathbed confession.

Brahms’ Violin Concerto is the perfect vehicle for Bell’s unique artistry, as seductive lyricism is engulfed by passionate outbursts - Bell will even perform his original cadenzas. Brahms’ Third Symphony is his most mellow, glowing with muted autumnal sunshine. One of Hong Kong’s finest composers, Clarence Mak opens the 2004/05 season with Voice of the Harbour commissioned by the HKPO. 

“Voice of the Harbour is my reflection of some of those tender moments of Hong Kong life when I was growing up,” Mak explained. “As a boy, I used to love riding the ferry, sitting by the harbour, . . . but now as a grown man I rarely have any more idle time.” A sense of nostalgia permeates this new work, which has one perceptible quotation of a Nanyin (southern narrative song) melody, which the composer associated with traditional tea cafes of Hong Kong’s bygone years. Mak’s use of harmony is not in anyway “Western” in Voice of the Harbour: Instrumental colours and articulated effects melt into a sound spectrum, creating textures rich and yet translucent.

2004/05 marks the beginning of a new era for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Beginning in September 2004, world-renowned conductor Maestro Edo de Waart will lead the HKPO as its Artistic Director and Chief Conductor, carrying out his artistic vision that aims to bring the orchestra to an unprecedented level of excellence with several multi-year initiatives. Some of such projects include the performance of a complete Mahler’s symphony cycle, a series of major operas in concert performances, the commission of new music by outstanding composers around the world, as well as the introduction of five distinct concert series catering to audience of various musical tastes.

Tickets for HKPO and Joshua Bell’s concerts are now available at URBTIX at HK$480, 360, 240, and 140.

Visit the HKPO website for more information at For enquiries, please call Ring-the-Phil at 2312 6103. Tickets are available through reservation at 2734 9009 (URBTIX), online ( or Credit Card Booking at 2111 5999 (Cityline).