Monday, 27 February 2012

The Star Ferry and 55 performances of Brahms

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from the water looking back at Wan Chai and my hotel

Sunday Feb 26th Recovery and Reception in the afternoon

I had an exploratory walk over the remarkable walkways which seem to cover the whole of Hong Kong. I climbed the stairs to the foot bridge near the hotel and walked via this elevated pathway to the harbour and the famous Star Ferry port. Feeling very pleased with myself for negotiating the many and various directions and arriving exactly where I wanted to be, I proceeded to make a bit of a Western fool of myself by being seemingly incapable of buying a ticket!

Eventually two charming young women standing behind me, took pity on my ineptitude, and helped me to understand that infact I had simply put my money in a change machine NOT a ticket machine! No wonder there was no token appearing from the collection shelf! After a few minutes and many gesticulations later I finally understood and went to the correct machine and got my small black token for the journey over the water to mainland Kowloon.

Kowloon is where I stayed 25 years ago when I came to Hong Kong to perform, so I wanted to wander about a bit. I recognised nothing in all honesty, except the ferry itself. The Star Ferry is an icon of old Hong Kong and still plies its way back and forth chugging out smoke from it's funnel, adding to the fumes, but being rather romantic and a little leftover of bygone colonial days.

Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip, and found over the other side at Tsim Shat Tsui the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, a brand spanking new concert hall venue with more performing spaces under one roof than Windsor Castle! I did find out that the Hong Kong Ballet is performing in the next few weeks, so as it seems impossible to get tickets for the Rugby Sevens, the Ballet makes a fine second choice! I am not sure I will have any takers amongst the other adjudicators, most of whom are chaps whose idea of jolly good evening's entertainment is more along the lines of a few beers and a meal the size of Inverness!

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Note the lovely invitation on the poster at the Concert Hall

Feb 27th Day One of Work

I had to find my own way to my first venue as it is considered Urban, and quite close to the hotel. I decided a taxi was the better part of valour as I did not want to be late on my first day. I arrived at the Youth Centre, a huge 12 floor building and was shown to the Studio which already contained my Assistant, Connie and neat rows of chairs already numbered and finished by a gleaming new Yamaha piano.

The class was 14 and Under Girls. I did not really know what to expect in terms of standard, but I was not disappointed. 47 of the 55 girls were beautifully prepared, smartly dressed in school uniforms of all hues, and ready to perform to the best of their ability. The overall winner was at the top of the best I would hear in the UK, and I settled into the comfortable, known country of adjudicating young singers of any nationality. My only real dilemma was whether I tries to pronounce names when I was giving my adjudication!

Being the coward I am, I opted to use their number - I know, the easy option. Maybe as the days go by I may become braver!

My Cantonese is very rusty!!?

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