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De Waart conducts contemporary and 20th century classics in New Vision Arts Festival


Hong Kong, 1 September 2006 – Experience 'live' Edo de Waart conducting the Hong Kong Philharmonic in one of the most controversial works of the 20th century, alongside works by Chinese  and American contemporary composers in this year's New Vision Arts Festival. The wide dynamic range, intricate rhythms and raw energy of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring will be contrasted with Iris Dévoilée, a nine-movement orchestral suite by Paris-based Chinese composer Chen Qigang, a unique combination of two vocalists (soprano I and a Peking Opera singer/soprano II), three Chinese instrumentalists (pipa, zheng and erhu) and the symphony orchestra. One will also hear American John Adams' masterpiece, The Chairman Dances from his opera Nixon in China. The concerts, entitled 'Cathay Pacific Discovery Series – Rite of Spring', will be held on 9 and 11 November 2006 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall at 8pm.

"I have done The Rite of Spring many, many times, but the most wonderful time was with Pina Bausch, a fantastic choreographer, who came to the Netherlands with her group. I conducted the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and we did six or seven 'live' performances together at the Carré Theatre. It was an exhilarating experience," said Edo de Waart. Stravinsky's Rite of Spring divided the musical public of Paris at its riotous premiere in 1913. Nearly a century later, it remains an Olympian challenge for conductors and orchestras, with its wildly complex rhythms and technical extremes.

Iris Dévoilée (Iris Unveiled), a nine-movement orchestral suite on nine facets of women, has become the most influential and popular piece among Chen Qigang's compositions since its première in February 2002 by the Orchestre National de France in Paris and the recording released by EMI/Virgin Classics. Bamberg Symphony's performance of this work in April received immensely positive reaction from German audiences. In the coming seasons, top orchestras such as the Stuttgart Southwest Radio Symphony in Germany, the Seattle Symphony in USA and the Orchestre de Paris will perform this piece.

"I am happy to know that the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will perform my Iris Dévoilée in November… and I am proud to collaborate with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time. As the leading orchestra in the Far East, I believe that [HKPO] will give a new and persuasive interpretation of my work," Chen Qigang wrote.

Chen Qigang, born in Shanghai in 1951, became a student of Olivier Messiaen in France after graduating from the Central Conservatory in Beijing. His award-winning works have been performed by renowned orchestras such as the BBC Scottish Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony. He is the composer of the ballet music of Raise the Red Lantern, a production of the National Ballet of China under direction of Zhang Yimou. Chen's official website is

Edo de Waart is also the authority for interpreting music by John Adams, one of America's most respected composers today. De Waart has conducted the world premieres and recorded many of John Adam's works, including Nixon in China, an opera inspired by the US president Nixon's visit to China in 1972.

Appendix: Programme notes of Iris Dévoilée

Programme Information
New Vision Arts Festival: Cathay Pacific Discovery Series - The Rite of Spring

9&11 | 11 | 2006
Thursday and Saturday   8PM
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
$300, $240, $160, $100
Available from URBTIX from 2 September
Reservations: 2734 9009
Credit Card booking: 2111 5999
Enquiries: 2721 2030

Edo de Waart conductor
Wong Ching         pipa
Luo Jing               zheng
Hsin Hsiao-hung    erhu
* Special acknowledgement to soloists of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra for performing in Iris  Dévoilée
Wu Yanyu            soprano
Meng Meng           qingyi & soprano II
Adams              Nixon in China: The Chairman Dances
Chen Qigang     Iris Dévoilée
Stravinsky        The Rite of Spring

The concerts are sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways Limited

- END -

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is rapidly emerging as Asia's leading orchestra, since internationally renowned Edo de Waart joined as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor in the 2004/05 Season. Throughout the last three decades, the Orchestra has grown into a formidable ensemble of Chinese and international talents, attracting world-class artists to perform on the same stage. It gives over a hundred performances annually, many of which are highly anticipated events in the city's cultural calendar. The Hong Kong Philharmonic reaches out to the community with such diverse activities as a comprehensive music-in-education programme for primary and secondary school students, performances at university campuses, an annual project with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts to help nurture aspiring professionals, free pre-concert talks that provides in-depth knowledge of music and musicians and an open-air concert that gives the public free access to classical music.

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is subvented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

SWIRE is the Principal Patron of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

Programme Notes of Iris Dévoilée

Iris Dévoilée (Iris Unveiled) (2001)                          Chen Qigang (1951)
Concert suite for two female voices, three traditional Chinese instruments & orchestra

"In Iris Dévoilée Chen creates gorgeous colors and textures, threading them through with dramatic gestures and sensuous melodies."

Barry Witherden
  Gramophone  (UK)

"Iris Dévoilée is an enchanting world, characterized by astonishingly well-integrated and subtle manipulation of the sonic palette…The moods depicted are filled with the shock of recognition in this marvelous score."

Stephen Pedersen
  The Herald (Canada)

Femininity is a constant source of inspiration that ignites the minds of artists worldwide. The composition of Chen Qigang's Iris Dévoilée reveals of the vibrant colors of his "obsessed woman".

Iris Dévoilée is an exquisite and dramatic piece with multiple facets. It is a powerful infusion of both Eastern and Western elements including a Peking opera singer, sopranos, Chinese string instruments erhu, zheng, pipa and a symphony orchestra.

The female name, "Iris", derives from ancient Greece being the Goddess of rainbow and a flower, who acted as a messenger for the Gods. There is an undertone connecting Iris's nine feminine facets—Ingenious, Chaste, Libertine, Sensitive, Tender, Jealous, Melancholic, Hysterical and Voluptuous, which coalesce into a vivid and long-lasting evocation of a distant memory.

The piece was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation (USA) and first performed by Orchestre National de France in Paris at February 2002.