No one expects music and art to sprout from a university of science and technology. And yet, that is exactly what is happening at HKUST. For the second season running, The Intimacy of Creativity, hailed by the Financial Times as “the city’s most innovative music experience” returned to Hong Kong, courtesy of the School of Humanities and Social Science of HKUST. It presented a smorgasbord of musical experiences from American folk tunes to Canto-pop numbers, and from classical to contemporary music styles.
The intimacy refers to the fact that from April 23 to 28 and from April 30 to May 4, composers were huddled with well-renowned performers on campus for in-depth discussions over musical composition. The revised compositions were then formally presented at Preview Concerts on campus and also at the World Premier Concerts at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre on May 1 and May 6.
The star cast for this two-week partnership included Bright Sheng, an internationally-renowned composer, conductor, pianist, winner of the highly-prized MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and significantly for us, a visiting member of IAS. Without his contributions, the event would not have been the stellar success that it was; Mark O’Connor, Distinguished Guest Artist and Grammy Award-winning violinist and composer; Joan Tower, Grawemeyer Award-winning composer and pianist; Special Guest Artist and 2009 International Van Cliburn Piano Competition Gold Medal winner Haochen Zhang; Trey Lee, Special Guest Artist and 2004 International Antonio Janigro Cello Competition First Prize winner; Special Guest Composer and Canto-pop star Jonathan Wong; Camerata Pacifica, the critically acclaimed Santa Barbara-based Emsemble-in-Residence, along with a string of emerging composers, local and international.
In the past, Hong Kong has been dismissively called a cultural desert. At HKUST flowers of music and art are in bloom on an oasis along a strip of the Clear Water Bay coast. Here, creativity sprouts in unexpected places and in different forms.