Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

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This article is about the most recent orchestra by this name. For the previous incarnation of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society, see Hong Kong Philharmonic Society (1895-1941).
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
HKPhil Logo.jpg
Native name 香港管弦樂團
Short name HKPO, HKPhil
Former name Sino-British Orchestra
Founded 1974
Location  Hong Kong
Concert hall Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Music director Jaap van Zweden
Website www.hkphil.org

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, (Chinese: 香港管弦樂團) commonly abbreviated as HKPO or HKPhil (Chinese: 港樂), is the largest symphony orchestra in Hong Kong. First established in 1947 as an amateur orchestra under the name Sino-British Orchestra (中英管弦樂團),[1][2] it was renamed the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in 1957 and became a professional orchestra in 1974 under the funding of the government.


Sino-British Orchestra[edit]

Sino-British Club was an organisation founded in 1946, aim at promoting harmony among different groups in Hong Kong (especially British and native Chinese) by cultural activities. Various groups were found under the Club, e.g. drama, literature, film, and music.

In 1947, Anthony Braga, one of the leaders of the music group of Sino-British Club, suggested to form a symphony orchestra to gather instrumentalists in the city and provide musical performance to the citizen, as the society is still recovering from the World War II. About 20 amateur musicians were found, and a chamber orchestra was formed quickly. Weekly rehearsal started in the summer.

Solomon Bard, a violinist who just finished his medical degree in the UK, returned to Hong Kong in the autumn of 1947, was invited to be the conductor of the Orchestra by Braga. Bard took over the Orchestra, and conducted the debut performance on 30 April 1948 in St. Stephen's Girls' College.

Arrigo Foa[edit]

Bard continued his directorship in the Orchestra after the debut. In 1953, Bard invited the Italian violinist and conductor Arrigo Foa to take over the Orchestra, and Bard worked as the concertmaster and deputy conductor of the Orchestra.

Arrigo Foa was a professional musician who joined Shanghai Municipal Orchestra as concertmaster since 1919. He succeed Mario Paci as the conductor of the Shanghai orchestra in 1942, under the Japanese occupation. Foa migrated to Hong Kong in 1953 and led the Orchestra immediately, he lead the Orchestra to play a critically acclaimed concert with pianist Louis Kentner.

Under the professional training of Foa, the Orchestra improved rapidly, and gained higher reputation in the city. Collaborated artists included cellist Pierre Fournier, pianists Julius Katchen, violinist Ruggiero Ricci, flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal.

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra[edit]

In 1957, members of the Orchestra decided to separate from the group from Sino-British Club. As an independent organisation, the orchestra was renamed to Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and registered as Hong Kong Philharmonic Society. Most of the musicians remained, Foa and Bard were on the same position in the new ensemble.

In 1974, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra became the first professional orchestra in Hong Kong, while the Sino-British Club dismissed in the same year.

The orchestra gives more than 140 performances annually to an audience of over 180,000. International musicians that collaborated with the orchestra in recent years include pianists Yuja Wang, Lang Lang, Yundi Li, Stephen Hough, Garrick Ohlsson, Ingrid Fliter, Haocheng Zhang, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet violinists Midori Gotō, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Vadim Repin, Ning Feng, Tinwa Yang, cellists Jian Wang, Yo-Yo Ma, vocalists Hui He, Sumi Jo, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Simon O'Neill, Inger Dam-Jensen, Shenyang, Matthias Goerne and guest conductors Antoni Wit, Andreas Delfs, Christophe Rousset, Nicholas McGegan, David Zinman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lorin Maazel, Zhang Xuan, Yu Long, Benjamin Northey etc. In addition to classical performances, it occasionally appears backing local pop stars such as Hacken Lee, Jacky Cheung, Frances Yip, Teresa Carpio, Leehom Wang and Hins Cheung.

Touring Record[edit]

In February 1986, the HKPO made its debut tour of several cities in the People's Republic of China, with conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn and soloists Stephanie Chase (violin) and Li Jian (piano). In the autumn of 1995, the HKPO travelled to 9 cities in the United States and Canada in its North American début under conductor David Atherton. In 2003, the orchestra made its European début with performances in London's Barbican Hall, Belfast, Dublin and Paris (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées).

The orchestra has finished a five-country tour in Europe in 2015, with performances in London, Zürich, Eindhoven, Birmingham, Berlin and Amsterdam as well as a filmed performance in Musikverein Vienna.

Recording History[edit]

The orchestra made it's debut recording under the label Philips in 1978, repertoire includes Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto and selected Chinese orchestral works, under the baton of Hans Gunther Mommer. In the 1980s, the orchestra made a serious recording for HK Records. Numbers of recordings also made for the label Marco Polo after Klaus Heymann founded Naxos.

Under the directorship of David Atherton, several recordings were released in Virgin Classics and GMN. In 1997, the orchestra is featured in Tan Dun's album Heaven Earth Mankind: Symphony 1997 (Sony Classical Records), as a celebration for the re-unification of Hong Kong.

The orchestra has also started a four-year project in 2015, making it the first Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese orchestra to perform Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung. The four operas will be performed, one a year, in concert and recorded live for the Naxos label.

Each year the orchestra hold a crossover concert with selected canto-pop singers. Live recordings are made after each production and this habit continue nowadays. Since the concert of Michael Kwan (conducted by Joseph Koo) in 1982, the most successful one is the live recording of the concert with Jacky Cheung (conducted by Wing-Sie Yip) in 1996.

Performance Venues[edit]

After the reorganization from the Sino-British Orchestra into the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in 1957, the orchestra played the first concert in Loke Yew Hall, the University of Hong Kong. Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall was the performance venue of the orchestra in early years. The orchestra is the first to perform in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre after the venue's opening in 1989, participating in the International Celebration of the Arts which is a festival to open the centre. Since then, Hong Kong Philharmonic has been the most frequent orchestra to perform in the venue. The orchestra has officially become the venue partner of Hong Kong Cultural Centre in 2009.

The orchestra also gives an annual outdoor performance, Symphony Under The Stars, Hong Kong's largest outdoor symphonic concert which attracts thousands of participants every year. Venues include the Happy Valley Racecourse and the New central Harbourfront.


Sino-British Orchestra (1947-1957)[edit]

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (1957-1973)[edit]

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (1974-present)[edit]

Music Directors[edit]

Conductor Laureate[edit]

  • 2000–2009 David Atherton

Principal Guest Conductors[edit]

Resident Conductors[edit]

Assistant Conductors[edit]

Associate Conductors[edit]


  1. ^ Chou, Oliver (2011-06-26). "And the bands played on". Post Magazine. South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 2012-02-12. 
  2. ^ Chu, Leon (2016-07-23). "百年神話是怎樣煉成的". 立場新聞 (in Chinese). Retrieved 2016-07-24. 

External links[edit]