Dr. Elvin Rodríguez was invited to participate in the 2nd Hong Kong Music Festival and 2015 Competition. He has been there for a week. Enjoy his recap:
The day after an almost 23 hour trip from LAX to Hong Kong due to delays, the 2nd Hong Kong Music Festival and 2015 Competition started with much pomp and music. The opening gala took place at the Tsuen Town Hall. It featured a large orchestra featuring traditional Chinese instruments and a mixture of Eastern and Western traditional classical music. Dignitaries present were the head of arts and culture for Hong Kong and from the central government in Beijing. Also present was the executive director of Asia Television, the oldest news outlet in China (and maybe beyond), and a crowd of over 1000 contestants with their respective families and friends. After a long night of music, awards, speeches, and festivities, the opening gala closed with two spectacular performances with the Chinese orchestra and a violin and pianist solo each playing a Chinese work for their instrument and the orchestra. The orchestra, in some way, represented the diversity of instruments that would compete in the festival.TUESDAY
After hearing that the diverse jury would be listening to approximately 1,300 contestants, after reducing the field from over 10,000 applicants, we knew it was going to take a lot of work! My jury unit of four jurors, later increased to six, would spend 13 hours to listen to almost 100 piano contestants in elementary, junior, and senior divisions. By the time I got back to my hotel at 11pm, I was exhausted, and I’m not sure I wanted to hear another version of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata!
Our unit was already bracing for another crazy day of listening and evaluating, however, while we heard about 120 contestants, we were able to finish by 7 pm due to the fact we just heard junior division students and our unit became very efficient in our evaluations. We started to realize that most of the contestants came from China and other Asian countries, even though the jury consisted of jurors from Hong Kong, China, United States, and Germany.
I finally got a chance to rest the morning and did a little bit of local sightseeing, but spent the afternoon and early evening evaluating more piano junior division students, including a wonderful, 7.5 year-old Korean student who played so sensitively and musically, and later a jury of 9 evaluated a smorgasbord of chamber groups, including a harp quartet, a clarinet octet, and a phenomenal group of late high school to college-age students playing 2 pieces by Chinese composers featuring the flute/piccolo, clarinet, sheng, a Chinese reed instrument with multiple pipes, marimba, pipa, a beautiful guitar-like instrument, and a cello! Later, a group of the jury was taken to a French dinner followed by a walk on the Victoria Bay boardwalk overlooking Hong Kong Island. Stunning!!
As I write this at midnight, I’m looking forward to a masterclass I’ll be giving tomorrow morning. Here is the projected schedule forFriday, the last day of the festival and competition:
9:30-11:00 – Piano Masterclass with Elvin R. (Me)
11:10-12:30 – Lecture by Cal State LA American composer, John Kennedy.
2-5:30 – Award ceremony for all prize winners
7:30-10:30 – Winners’ Recital and closing ceremonies
Flying back home “from the future”! 😉