Arrival of a 100-member orchestra in Vienna to signal the post-border trend
The renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will be the first top foreign ensemble to return to Hong Kong as the SAR gradually opens up after nearly three years of pandemic restrictions.
And a positive impact for performers in Hong Kong will see Viennese wind musicians not be required to wear masks when on stage.
More than 100 musicians from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will perform on October 24 and 25 at the Hong Kong Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui.
It will mean glorious sounds with the first RAS concert by a foreign orchestra since the pandemic took hold.
Its members will also be released from hotel quarantine under the 0+3 arrangement.
In a response to The Standard yesterday, the Department of Leisure and Cultural Services said the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra would be the first foreign orchestra to visit Hong Kong since 2020 and it was planned two years ago.
“VPO is fully aware of the current entry control measures and requirements,” he said. “Orchestra members will follow the most recent boarding requirements, quarantine arrangements and guidance established by the Health Bureau.
“Musicians playing wind instruments are allowed to wear masks during rehearsals and performances if they meet the multiple test conditions after arriving in Hong Kong.”
The ministry added that it will present one to two guest orchestras each year.
Under the direction of Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Most, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Wagner’s Prelude to Parsifal, WWV 111, Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration, Op 24, and Symphony No. 8 in G, Op 88 from Dvorak on October 24.
This will be followed by Brahms’ Tragic Overture, Op. 81, Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 90 and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Op. 30 by Strauss on October 25th.
Tickets for the two concerts – part of SAR’s 25th anniversary celebrations – will be available from Monday, with prices ranging from HK$380 to HK$1,980.
The LCSD will also organize the live broadcast of the concerts on radio, television and online platforms.
The Vienna Philharmonic last visited Hong Kong in 2011 and tickets sold out on the first day.
Hong Kong Arts Festival program director Grace Lang said orchestra wind musicians will not be required to wear face masks on stage, even if they are code amber holders .
Currently, only local musicians can be excused from wearing face masks during performances.
Lang said the visit of such a renowned orchestra to Hong Kong was encouraging for the local arts, noting that there were “good signals” as Hong Kong welcomed a first foreign orchestra amid the pandemic.
She also noted that Hong Kong is just one stop on a Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra tour, so she doesn’t expect the orchestra to stay for long.
Lang also said that if the performances of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra go as well as expected, local arts event planners will be encouraged to invite more foreign orchestras to perform in Hong Kong for the Arts Festival l ‘next year.
But a source claimed the 0+3 arrangement will not appeal to all foreign performers as foreign performers will not be able to dine in restaurants due to the current three-day medical surveillance rule.
Still, it was agreed that the 0+3 arrangement is better than the old 3+4 system, as artists will no longer be required to submit to a hotel quarantine.
As part of current social distancing measures, people must adhere to vaccine pass arrangements when visiting LCSD-operated venues. And people with a red or orange code are not allowed to enter the premises.
As The Standard reported on September 26, musicians from Hong Kong and Austria will livestream an intercontinental ensemble in an orchestral ensemble from Monday to October 27.