• The Orchestra was founded in 1977 and is the only professional, full-sized Chinese orchestra with 85 musicians in Hong Kong. It came under the management of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra Limited on 1st April, 2001 when the latter took over from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of Hong Kong. Under the leadership of the incumbent Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Yan Huichang (1997-date), and former Music Director – Ng Tai-kong (1977-1986), Kuan Nai-chung (1986-1993) and Henry Shek (1993-1997), the Orchestra has been promoting Chinese music as its mission.
• The Orchestra is deeply rooted in the Chinese cultural heritage. Its performance format and repertoire include both traditional Chinese music and contemporary full-scale works. It also explores new frontiers in music through commissioning new works of various types and styles, and over the years, has commissioned more than 2,100 original compositions and arrangements. The Orchestra currently has an establishment of 85 musicians who perform in the four sections comprising bowed-strings, plucked-strings, wind and percussion instruments. Traditional as well as improved Chinese instruments are incorporated.
Scope of activities
• To bring the colourful world of Chinese music to the people of Hong Kong, the Orchestra organizes more than 100 regular and outreach concerts every year, as well as mass activities such as the Hong Kong Huqin Festival, the Hong Kong Drum Festival and the Hong Kong Dizi and Xiao Festival.
• As a Cultural Ambassador of Hong Kong, the Orchestra has been invited to perform at various famous venues in the world and at international festivals. It has performed in Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, Macao, Canada, the United States, Holland, Austria, Germany, England, France, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Ireland, Russia, Belgium and Norway (Arctic Circle).
• To promote Chinese music to different sectors of the community and to provide long-term financial support for the development of the Orchestra, the Friends of HKCO was set up in 1998 and the HKCO Development Fund was set up in 2002.
• To provide opportunities for the growth of a new generation of audience in Chinese music, the Orchestra gives performances in schools and has set up the Children Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and the Junior Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra in 2003. In addition, it also organizes instrumental classes and has joined hands with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in music education projects. In educational projects organized in conjunction with television stations, radios and other institutions, the Orchestra has produced a CD-Rom entitled The Treasure of Chinese Music: The Huqin.
• The Orchestra continues to conduct research on and develop Chinese traditional and contemporary compositions and to strive to achieve the best acoustic effects through the application of improved instruments by setting up a Folk Music group, Chamber Music group, Instrument R & D group and HKCO Pop.
• The Orchestra has an extensive discography to date, which includes live recordings of its concerts, studio recordings etc. in CD, VCD and DVD formats. It also launched the world’s first ever SACD recording of a live concert by a Chinese orchestra in 2003.
• The Orchestra performed the soundtrack music for world famous films, Warriors of Heaven and Earth and Kung Fu Hustle.
• Apart from collating and publishing papers presented at the symposia and conferences, the Orchestra also publishes books on Chinese music. The titles published to date areThe Enjoyment of Chinese Orchestral Music and A Handbook to Appreciating Chinese Orchestral Music.
• In carrying out social commitments, the “Music for Love” scheme was set up in September 2005 to bring the beauty of Chinese music to the under-privileged like seniors, orphans and single-parents centres etc.
Conferences and Symposia
• The Orchestra organized an international conference on the development of Chinese music, entitled Retrospect and Development of Modern Chinese Orchestra. Experts and scholars attending came from Hong Kong, China and overseas, and many enlightening views were raised on the occasion. (1997)
• The Orchestra organized the International Competition for Chinese Orchestral Composition 2000 and the Chinese Orchestra Composition Symposium to promote Chinese orchestral compositions and explore the acoustic effects through different configuration layouts. (2000)
• A seminar series entitled On the Ecology of Chinese Music in a Modern Environment and Its Future Developments was held as part of the activities of the worldwide poll for Golden Chinese Classics of the Century. (2002)
• The Orchestra organized The Fourth International Symposium on Chinese Music – Tradition and Evolution. (2007)
• The Orchestra organized the First International Conducting Competition for Chinese Music, followed by the Hong Kong Symposium for Conducting. Local and overseas experts in the field, academics as well as representatives at senior executive or artistic level from orchestra groups in Asia were invited to participate. (2011)
Making Guinness Records
• A new Guinness Record was set by the Orchestra when some one thousand erhuplayers played at a mass performance entitled Music from a Thousand Strings. The official entry was made as the largest number of people performing the erhu at the same time. (2001)
• The Orchestra held the Opening Rally of the Hong Kong Drum Festival at an unprecedented mass performance witnessed by all Hong Kong, when three thousand Hong Kong citizens played a drum piece, The Earth Shall Move. The event marks another Guinness World of Records entry for the Orchestra and served to boost the morale of the people of Hong Kong after the ravages of SARS. (2003)
• More than 500 dizi players joined the HKCO in a mass performance at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Dizi and Xiao Festival 2005 – another world record for having the largest number of people playing the dizi together. (2005)
Honours and Awards
• The Orchestra was awarded for ‘The Most Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Contemporary Chinese Music’ by the ISCM World Music Days 2002 Hong Kong. (2002)
• The Council of the Orchestra was awarded ‘Directors of the Year – Statutory/ Non-profit-distributing Organization Board’ by The Hong Kong Institute of Directors for achievement in corporate governance. (2004).
• The 2003-2004 Annual Report of the Orchestra was awarded ’2004 Best Corporate Governance Disclosure Awards – Gold Award of Public Sector/ Not-for-profit Category’ by the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. (2004)
• The Orchestra was awarded for ‘The 28th Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award – The Golden Needle Award’ by Radio Television Hong Kong. (2005)
• Awarded the ‘Caring Organization’ logo by The Hong Kong Council of Social Services. (2005-2007)
• The Orchestra was awarded the ‘Most Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Asian Contemporary Music’ by the Asian Composers League. (2007)
• Roots of the Chinese, a recording that featured the Orchestra, won two awards in the ‘Instrumental Music – Album’ category and the ‘Instrumental Music – Performance’ category at the 6th China Gold Record Awards. (2008)
• The Orchestra was awarded the Judging Panel’s Grand Prize in The 2nd Hong Kong Corporate Branding Award (2008)
• The Series of Eco-Huqin developed by the Orchestra was awarded the “Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence – ‘Class of Good’ Productwi$e Label”(2008)
• RTHK Radio 4 presents “Top 10 Music Headlines” 2010 – The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra launches the first Hong Kong International Conducting Competition for Chinese music. Categories include Best Hong Kong Conducting Talent and Best Interpretation of a Work on Hong Kong. Listen (2010)
• The Orchestra was awarded the Certificate of Merit – Award for Arts Education by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. (2011)