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British Film Star Samuel West to appear with Hong Kong Philharmonic in Shakespeare’s Henry V with music by Walton

Hong Kong, 11 April 2008

Hong Kong, 11 April 2008 – Charismatic British actor Samuel West, most famous for his role as Leonard Bast in the Oscar-winning movie, Howards End, will star in William Walton’s musical rendition of Henry V in Hong Kong Philharmonic’s Cathay Pacific Discovery Series: The Orchestral Shakespeare, on 30 and 31 May at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. The Shakespearean-themed concerts will also feature A Midsummer Night’s Dream incidental music by Felix Mendelssohn, with Edo de Waart on the podium. Cathay Pacific Discovery Series: The Orchestral Shakespeare is sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways.

"Shakespeare's collected works would always be under my pillow...he never bores me," said Samuel West. The Oxford-educated actor/director has led a distinguished career on stage and screen. He has worked with the biggest names in British theatre and has directed many of Shakespeare's works. He has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 1993 BAFTA Film Awards (Howards End). His direction of English National Opera's production of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte was also nominated for a 2004 Olivier award. He is most famous for his role as Leonard Bast in the Oscar-winning Ivory Merchant movie Howards End, and has also appeared in numerous other films such as Notting Hill and Iris.

Henry V marked legendary Shakespearean actor Lawrence Olivier's debut as a movie director. For the score, he commissioned it from the greatest British composer of his time, William Walton, who further collaborated with Olivier in 2 more Shakespearean movies, Hamlet and Richard III. Olivier said, "It is the most wonderful music I've ever heard for a film". Walton was a prolific composer, whose most famous works include Façade, set to poems by Edith Sitwell, the oratorio, Belshazzar's Feast, and his numerous symphonies and concertos. In 1988, Christopher Palmer, one of the leading authorities on British music in the 20th century and a close friend of Walton, "restructured the Henry V score as a piece for speaker, orchestra and chorus". It tells the story with cinematic flourish, encompassing the tenderness of farewell, the piteous death of Falstaff and the exhilaration of battle and victory. This is the version that Hong Kong audiences will see and hear.

The innovative Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra has featured such diverse elements as silent movie, magic tricks, Japanese Taiko drums and 40 modern dancers in its concerts successfully in recent years. The Orchestra's vitality and creativity continue to draw more and new audiences into the concert hall. The Hong Kong Philharmonic’s success in expanding its audience base and gaining public support has recently been recognized by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council who honoured HKPO with the Arts Marketing Award.

Samuel West


Programme Details:

Cathay Pacific Discovery Series: The Orchestral Shakespeare

30 & 31 / 5 / 2008
Friday and Saturday
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
8 pm
HK$380, $280, $180, $120

Edo de Waart Conductor
Samuel West Actor
With the Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus

Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Suite
Walton (arr. Palmer) Henry V

The Orchestral Shakespeare is sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways.


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Hailed as “one of Asia's top orchestras”, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HKPO) is led by the internationally renowned Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Edo de Waart. Enriching Hong Kong’s cultural life for over a century, the Orchestra has grown into a formidable ensemble of Chinese and international talents in the last three decades, attracting world-class artists to perform on the same stage. In April 2006, The Swire Group Charitable Trust became the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s Principal Patron, committing HK$36 million over three years to enable Maestro de Waart’s artistic vision for the Orchestra to be realized. HKPO annually touches the lives of 200,000 music lovers through more than 150 performances, including a series of outreach activities including the city’s largest outdoor symphonic concert in Happy Valley, Swire Symphony under the Stars. Please visit for more information about the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is financially supported by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

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