I was at the 1st International Chinese Orchestra Conducting Competition in Hong Kong last week. The competition was pretty intense and I lost 4kg over one week.
Preparing for the competition was not as difficult as one would imagine, but once you were there, the stress I faced was almost unbearable. You have to wait and wait and wait for your turn to conduct, and then wait and wait and wait again for the results. In the mean time, you could not watch the others and not sure whether or not to prepare for the next round, or just forget about it and enjoy your stay in Hong Kong.
HKCO (Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra) is definitely one of the top Chinese Orchestras in the world. However, the music director has limited himself with one single style and invited only guest conductors of his style. This prevents the orchestra from growing and becoming more internationally recognized.
There are many different ways of conducting Chinese Orchestra and the interpretation could be varied from one another. The way HKCO’s music director tries to “unite” a single way of conducting Chinese Orchestra seems ridiculous. Well, the first thing he needs to improve would be his ears and study the score harder rather than just merely designing the acting on the stage which does not communicate with the orchestra at all. Setting up a “style” of conducting as a way to dominate the field is not enough. Music is closely connected to our souls and lives. Each person would have to live his/her own life and share it with the players and audience. Without the honesty for the music, all the superficial acts seem ridiculous on the stage. No wonder there are less and less audience for HKCO nowadays.
It is my honor to have conducted the fine ensemble. They are fun and great to work with as they are super-responsive to whatever gestures I showed. Now let’s hope that the organizer will give the participants their recordings instead of destroying them (so that no one would ever know what has happened).