Orchestras and Ensembles
Academy Symphony Orchestra
All orchestral instrument students participate in the Academy Symphony Orchestra. Weekly rehearsals cover standard symphonic literature as well as modern works. The Orchestra has performed under the batons of Sir Neville Marriner, Georg Tintner, Trevor Pinnock, Takuo Yuasa, Christoph Campestrini, Joseph Silverstein, and Francois-Xavier Roth; and has worked with famous soloists including Nigel Kennedy (violin), Julian Lloyd Webber (cello), Robert Holl (bass baritone), Andrew Marriner (clarinet), Guy Barker (trumpet), Paul Badura-Skoda (piano) and Malcolm Bilson (fortepiano). The Orchestra has been invited to perform in Austria, France, Spain, the UK, Vietnam and Thailand. It was the resident orchestra at the Carinthia Summer Festival in Austria from 1999 to 2001, and its concerts have received much critical acclaim.
Academy Chinese Orchestra
Chinese Music students take part in the Academy Chinese Orchestra as well as in various ensembles such as the Zheng ensemble, Silk and Bamboo ensemble, Guangdong music ensemble, Winds and percussion ensemble; Plucked strings ensemble, and Chinese percussion ensemble. Regular concerts include various solo, concerto, ensemble and Chinese orchestral performances featuring a wide repertoire of traditional classical pieces, folk music, new compositions and works specifically commissioned by the Department for the Orchestra. Students have worked with distinguished composers and conductors such as Kuan Nai-chung, Liu Wen-jin, He Zhan-hao, Gu Guan-ren, Zhao Ji-ping, Hu Bing-xu, Yan Huichang, Zhou Cheng-long, Ho Man-chuen, Chung Yiu-kwong, Wu Hua, Wang Yong-ji, Wang Hui-ran, Wang Fujian and Zhu Chang-yao. The Orchestra and various ensembles play a significant role in promoting Chinese music both locally and overseas. Students have toured the UK, the United States and Canada, Austria, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan and New Zealand. Ho Man-chuen is a regular conductor of the Academy Chinese Orchestra.
The Academy Choir has performed with outstanding success under choirmasters Gordon Kember, Michael Rippon, Raymond Fu, Lazlo Heltay, Jeanette Gallant, Nina Yip, Lam Ho-chi and Timmy Tsang. It has presented major works such as Handel's Messiah, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (this together with the choir of St. Martin-in-the-Fields under Sir Neville Marriner), Purcell's Dido and Aeneas for RTHK Radio Four, Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Faure's Requiem and Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Academy Symphony Orchestra.
Academy Concert Band
The Academy Concert Band provides opportunities for the woodwind, brass and percussion students to participate in the wind band tradition. It performs a varied repertoire that includes classical, contemporary and popular music. Highlights of recent concerts include a performance of Heinrich Hubler's Concerto for Four Horns with the Vienna Horn Ensemble, and a concert of music by Alfred Reed conducted by the composer himself and featuring the Hong Kong premiere of his new Trumpet Concerto played by the renowned Taiwanese trumpeter Yeh Shu-han.
Contemporary Music Ensemble
The Contemporary Music Ensemble provides opportunities for performers to become familiar with the music of major contemporary composers as well as for performers and composers to work together in exploring new instrumental techniques. There are concerts by the ensemble each year to highlight various musical styles and genres of contemporary works.
Chamber Music Groups
The School of Music runs an extensive chamber music programme for Western Music students. Chamber music groups include piano and string trios, string quartets, wind quintets and octets, piano duos, guitar ensembles, percussion ensembles as well as groups comprising different combinations of instruments. Students are assigned to groups or form their own, and are coached by faculty staff and visiting artists including the Miami String Quartet, the Sydney String Quartet, the Cleveland Quartet, and members of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
Academy Brass Ensemble
The Academy Brass Ensemble gives students the opportunity to play a wide variety of brass ensemble music, ranging from Renaissance music to modern works, and including large-scale arrangements, sometimes involving percussion as well. The Academy Brass Ensemble has performed with well-known artists around the world including the American Horn Quartet and Peter Harvey. Highlights of recent concerts include a performance of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition arranged by Elgar Howarth and conducted by Roger Harvey.
Academy Jazz Ensemble
The Academy Jazz Ensemble introduces students to the creative challenge of improvisation in the major jazz styles. The ensemble performs around four times a year in different venues within the Academy, and is often featured in community outreach concerts at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
The School of Music organises around 300 performances each year. About 200 of these are programmed within the Academy and the rest in Hong Kong and various overseas venues. Many of the Academy concerts are open to the general public free of charge. Below are some of performances which regularly take place in the Academy:
- Academy Symphony Orchestra Concerts
- Academy Concert Band Concerts
- Concerto Competition Winners Concerts
- Chinese Orchestra and Ensemble Concerts
- Chamber Music Concerts
- Contemporary Music Concerts
- Electronic Music Showcase
- Multimedia Production
- Academy Jazz Ensemble Concerts
- Departmental Concerts
- End of Year Graduation Recitals
- Junior Music programme Concerts
- Recitals by Visiting Artists and Alumni
- Open Day Performances
- Opera Scenes and Opera Productions
The Academy is one of a very small number of institutions in the world that offers all the major performing arts disciplines and theatre technical arts as well as film and television under one roof. The five schools are thus able to join efforts in putting on large-scale, high quality productions each year. The opera productions in the School of Music have full theatre technical support (lighting, set design, costumes and so on) from the School of Technical and Entertainment Arts, and often involve School of Dance and School of Drama students as well. Productions in 2004-2006 were Offenbach's Perichole and Handel's Serse.
Examples of other cross-disciplinary collaboration include the musical Fiddler on the Roof (2003), dance production Body Torque (2005) in which the Symphony Orchestra played Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos and John Adams' Shaker Loops. These co-presentations were made successful from the joint efforts of the schools of Music, Dance, Drama and Technical Arts.
Overseas Tours and Performances
School of Music students often act as cultural ambassadors for Hong Kong. Both Chinese and western music ensembles, the Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band have given performances abroad in 17 countries on four continents.
The Chinese Music Ensemble has been regularly invited by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices in Brussels and London to perform in European Countries. Since 2002, they have been to Belgium, France, England, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary to perform to enthusiastic audiences who listened to Chinese music for the first time.
A student string quartet performed at Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Bangkok in Thailand during Easter 2005. In Bangkok, the King's sister was amongst the audience in this special charity concert for Tsunami victims.
In 2008, the Academy Concert Band performed at the International Horn Conference in Denver, Colorado.