HKCO is a highly-esteemed, non-profit organisation whom as Cultural Ambassador of Hong Kong, have been invited to perform in many famous venues around the world. Dedicated to creating first-rate, innovative and beautiful art, HKCO continue to develop the perfect balance between contemporary and traditional Chinese music. They have attained many awards including ‘The Most Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Contemporary Chinese Music’ by the ISCM World Music Days 2002 Hong Kong and a new Guinness World Record for the highest number of erhu players performing at the same time. They are the only Chinese orchestra to research and use their own instruments which they sell to other orchestras in China and Taiwan. They are also committed to nurturing the growth of a new generation of musicians and are consequently heavily involved with educating and performing in schools.
In today’s interview, DB has the privilege of talking with Dr Celina Chin Man-wah – the first Executive Director of HKCO. Dr Chin has played a crucial role in the growth of HKCO since its transition into an independent, non-profit organisation in 2001. She holds The Hong Kong Institute of Directors Diploma in Company Direction and Professional Diploma in Corporate Governance & Directorship. More recently, she achieved a Master of Arts in Strategic Management for Non-Distributing Organization at Middlesex University. Today, DB finds out more about her role and experience working with HKCO.
DB: 香港中乐团即将在9月份迎来它的40周年，请问你们打算如何庆祝？In September, the 40th anniversary of HKCO orchestral season will commence. How will you be celebrating?
Actually, we started our celebrations last year. We have so many special projects that we spread it out over two years. Last year, we had a special opening for new commissions. We hosted an international competition for Chinese music conductors and new compositions. The forthcoming celebration programme will include a concert in September and we will feature the works of the Chinese Orchestra and present a piece we only usually perform overseas. As part of the programme, we will be working with the Hong Kong Children’s Choir among other engagements with the community. We will also commission a new piece from a Hong Kong local composer, to add to our collection of over 2,300. In October, we will perform the same programme that was performed on the 14th October in the same place that the orchestra started, forty years ago. We will hold the Hong Kong International Youth Festival and it will be a platform for musicians to exchange musical culture. As part of the Festival, we will select some classical music for younger musicians in the Chinese youth orchestra to perform, modified for them to be able to play. This year is also the 15th anniversary of the Hong Kong Drum Festival and we will invite them to perform to celebrate. We have a very busy programme!
DB: 您在文化项目管理方面有丰富的经验，包括亚洲艺术节、中国音乐节、香港国际电影节等等。请问是什么激励了您想要加入到香港中乐团？You have rich experience and involvement in many cultural sectors including the Festival of Asian Arts, Chinese Music Festival and Hong Kong International Film Festival, to name a few. What inspired you to become involved with HKCO?
I was the Immigration Officer in 1982 for the government. After six years of service, I saw the advertisement for a cultural manager, which I applied for and was accepted. In 1996, I was posted to the HKCO as a government servant. The HKCO was corporatised a few later meaning the government servants no longer did the administration and so a new team was needed. The government recommended me to help and I then I later moved over and became the first Executive Director. Some people ask me why I gave up the many benefits of my job in the government service to join the HKCO. My answer is that HKCO is a leading Chinese orchestra in the world and we have a mission to provide a high standard Chinese orchestra for the people of Hong Kong.
DB: 作为第一任行政总监，您觉得您为香港中乐团带来些什么？As the first Executive Director of HKCO, what do you feel you have been able to bring to the organisation?
I was the programme manager of the orchestra before 2001 so I had experience working closely with the orchestra, including the musicians. Consequently, I was more connected to the community. The policy makers around the world focus mostly on tangible figures, like the number of audits but many of our contributions are intangible. The outcome might not be obvious in one year but long term you will see the development. We serve the community and this includes providing music for people that cannot afford tickets. I implemented the “Music for Love” scheme which uses donations from donors to purchase tickets for under-privileged members of the community. We have programmes for the purpose of getting the community involved, like our Guinness World Record. We also use audience participation. For example, at a concert we gave out Chinese drums to audience members to get people to work together to perform the piece. I try to bring more to the community.
DB: 据我了解，您带领着你们的团队进入到了教育领域，这是得到大家认可的。请问为什么教育对您来说是非常重要的一部分？I understand that you have lead your team to expand education programmes which have gained national recognition. Why is education so important to you?
There is a survey in the US that demonstrates how important it is to expose children to music below the age of twelve. If you plant the music in their hearts, they will come back to it in later life. It is therefore very important to have cultural education for the children. We have many programmes like the Hong Kong Junior Chinese Orchestra, instrumental classes and we work with other organisations to promote Chinese music. We received funding for our three-year programme of Chinese music education. As part of the children’s Chinese orchestra, we teach them to become more professional so they know how to develop themselves to a higher level. We also provide internships for young people to join the orchestra. It teaches children how to be a team player and provides an environment for children to learn to work together. When you play in the orchestra you must listen to others and this is an important skill for children to learn.
DB: 请问您作为行政总监，最大的收获是什么？What is the most rewarding aspect of your role as Executive Director?
I think it is self-actualisation. When I worked in the immigration department I didn’t get to be too creative. Working in the cultural sector means you can be creative, innovate and work with people. Seeing your idea turn into reality, like when we set a world record, is very rewarding.
DB: 香港中乐团坚持着提供最卓越的中国民乐，也希望成为香港人的骄傲，成为世界级的中乐团。请问这是你们未来计划的一部分吗？HKCO continues to offer excellence in Chinese music and aims to attain a world-class status that is the pride of the Hong Kong people. Is this something you anticipate for the future?
Yes, it is our mission. The orchestra has grown in its appeal to the Hong Kong community in the last ten to twenty years. We are very happy that we are now growing more appealing to the rest of the world too. We hope this interest continues to grow in the future. We want Chinese music to become of equivalent status to Western orchestra. We are already a leading Chinese orchestra but we hope to be recognised at the same standard as world orchestras.
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