I didn’t buy that many tickets this year – only 5: Yuri Simanov with Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra (and pianist Konstantin Lifschitz), Propeller (12th Night), Great Mass by Leipzig Ballet, Julia Migenes (Alter Ego), and Soweto Gospel Choir. 

The Moscow Philharmonic was good. Yuri Simanov’s conducting was impressive. The concert was opened with a splendidly played Shostakovich overture but no more surprise afterwards. As for the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 played by Konstantin Lifshitz…well, I couldn’t feel the power. I even fell asleep for a few seconds in the slow movement. I’m not sure if it’s the hall (well, the concert hall in Cultural Centre should be demolished! Such a waste!) or the pianist to blame. But since the hall is bad anyways, let’s blame the hall. The best part of this concert was that they played 4 encore pieces making the encore part almost as long as the program itself. The concert started at around 8:10pm and ended at almost 11pm. 

I must admit that I’m not a big fan of Shakespeare’s and I didn’t study English Literature when I was in school. I’ve only watched one Shakespeare play before – Tempest by AandBC Theatre Company and it was a wonderful experience. Watching 12th Night by Propeller was also a wonderful experience…not in the same way though. Tempest is neither a tragedy nor a comedy. It’s a romance. 12th Night is a comedy and that night I watched 12th Night was indeed filled with joy and laughters. It’s really…just hilarious to see guys playing the female roles. Imagine you see a person who’s so obviously a guy wearing a shimmering silver deep-V neck gown to play the role of Olivier, then another obviously male person play the role of Maria in a petit black and a pair of high heels. In one particular scene, ‘she’ sat down and put one leg on a chair (or a box…whatever) and caress his leg. It’s just hilarious. I know some people may find it disrespectful to Shakespeare but I found that play really kinda “-like". Well, I guess Shakespeare, like , didn’t aim at becoming a great writer (play-wright) but really just to make a living. I don’t know but it was fun. 

Great Mass by Leipzig Ballet was…ok. It was the most pricy one on the list (and the whole festival) with the top price at $1200. I guess the money was justified as it’s really a big production involving three parties: the ballet company, the orchestra, and the choir, plus 4 vocal soloists. I’m not a dancer so I can’t really comment on the choreography or the dance itself but from a general public point of view, I’d say it’s beautiful. The orchestra was good. The soloists…well, they’re good except the soprano was constantly flat on the Es (one octave above middle C). The only thing that I don’t like was the inclusion of those poems. I couldn’t see how they fit into Mozart’s Great Mass. Perhaps it’s my lack of appreciation for literature. I don’t know. 

Julia Migenes is indeed a very good singer – both as a jazz singer and an opera singer. Her voice is just superb…but the songs that night wasn’t really the kind of jazz I like so…well, I really adore her voice (and the two musicians and the young dancer as well) but I didn’t really like the songs. Nevertheless, I bought the CD. 

Soweto Gospel Choir was the last program I went to and it was just GREAT! It’s really uplifting. I enjoyed every moment of that concert. They’re just great. The only ‘regret’ was that the Hong Kong audience were a bit timid – while the choir was singing, dancing, clapping on the stage, hardly anyone clapped in the stall (I was sitting in the stall. I was told that many got up and danced along in the balcony area). They didn’t get up to their feet until the encore session. 

That’s all for this year. Money well spent.