On the evening of November 13, the Union Philharmonic Orchestra held its Annual Performance, titled Pathétique, at the Grand Hall in the University of Hong Kong. Before the concert, an eager audience of students, staff and relatives, lined to purchase last minute at-the-door tickets in front of the Lee Shau Kee Lecture Centre. The concert hall filled up almost immediately.
The Union Philharmonic Orchestra, HKUSU is the university’s only symphony orchestra, incorporating a group of talented instrumentalists from a variety of backgrounds, faculties, and levels of study. Rehearsals take place twice a week, for three hours each, an intense schedule, especially for upper year students.
“If you really love to do something, you will arrange your time well to do what you want to do,” says Francis Yiu, a violinist who has been with the orchestra throughout his four years at HKU. Francis described the rehearsal sessions as valuable and enjoyable because of the sharing of relevant stories that make members think about “how to present the music appropriately.”
For the majority of the orchestra’s musicians, even the newcomers, this was not their first time to perform a symphony on stage. Tommy Lau, a freshman and a new member of the orchestra, has been playing the trombone for nine years. Explaining his passion for music, he says “I picked up music because it gave me the greatest sense of achievement.”
The Orchestra’s Annual Performance 2015 began with Albert Franz Doppler’s Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise. After the first piece, Professor Gabriel Leung, Dean of Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and principal conductor for the night, introduced the Union Philharmonic Orchestra. Leung discussed the unique constituent piano soloists, who had only five weeks to master the complex piece that would follow, namely Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor. The celebrated soloists were William Wong, a fourth year student from the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine playing the first movement, Jason Liu, a second year student from the Faculty of Architecture playing the second, and Dulcia Chang, a fourth year student from the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine playing the third movement.
“The second piece was my favorite. The dynamics of the orchestra and the piano created a beautiful harmony,” explained Mrs. Lee, an audience member who came to watch her daughter perform.
The finale of the night, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.6 in B minor, “Pathétique” was the largest production in terms of orchestral size and length. Again, Leung interacted with the audience with quips and additional information prior to the performance to help them better experience the piece.
“We do not expect our audience members to be experts of classical music. We welcome newcomers — listen carefully to the four bars here…”, said Leung, demonstrating how the orchestra concerts at the university were made to be inclusive to audiences of all tastes and expertise.
The synergy amongst the musicians was euphonious and well-deserving of the long round of applause that concluded the night. “I am so grateful that my daughter can play and grow with such talented students. I feel like the orchestra is improving every year — they pulled off the Tchaikovsky amazingly,” commented Mrs. Lee.
The Union Philharmonic Orchestra will be holding its next performance in April. All interested parties may send inquiries via email at email@example.com.