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United In Diversity: A positive signal at the end of a challenging year

Over the weekend, a concert hosted by the German Consulate-General of Hong Kong and Macau and the Office of the European Union celebrated the many musical traditions across Europe.



An energetic buzz filled City Hall’s lobby on Sunday as the audience arrived for one of the few concerts still on as Hong Kong entered its fourth wave of the pandemic – United In Diversity: A Celebration of European Music. Even though social distancing precautions had been taken to ensure safety, the lower audience capacity did not take away from the anticipation of the coming performance.

Three days after the show, concert halls were asked to close.

Hosted jointly by the German Consulate-General of Hong Kong and Macau and the Head Office of the European Union in Hong Kong and Macau, the concert’s large repertoire showcased music from fourteen different European countries. 

German Consul-General, Herr Dieter Lamlé, opened the concert with a welcoming forward statement.

“Concert Halls in Europe have had to remain silent,” said Lamlé, “And musicians have had to wait for better times … I hope that this concert can send a positive signal at the end of a challenging year.”

Mr Thomas Gnocchi, Head of the EU Office to Hong Kong and Macau, echoed Herr Lamle’s sentiments on the importance of unity during these difficult times.

“Many of you might not have been able to visit loved ones in Europe, so we brought some of Europe to Hong Kong,” Gnocchi said.

Both Lamlé and Gnocchi concluded their speeches by thanking the different European Consul-Generals in Hong Kong as well as the Hong Kong government for their support. 

Performed by the Ponte Orchestra, led by conductor Stephen Lam, the concert included classic pieces such as German composer Paul Linke’s Berliner Luft, Czech Romantic composer Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances and Austrian Johann Strauss (Sr)’s Radestzky March. The set also included modern works such as the Angry Bird’s Theme by Finnish composer Ari Pukkinen. 

If any of you are thinking of leaving, don’t. And I don’t mean the Concert Hall, I mean Hong Kong … It is a truly beautiful place with talents from all over the world.STEPHEN LAM, PONTE ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR

The orchestra was also joined by local vocalists Venus Ho and Maggie Cho who performed pieces such as French singer Joe Dassin’s jazz classic Les Champs-Elysees and Irish-Norwegian duo Secret Garden’s You Raise Me Up. Guitarist Au Man-Bun performed the Adagio from Spanish composer Joaquin Roridgo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and the young thirteen-year-old Allen Kiu performed German-Belgian organist Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus. 

The evening concluded with the European Union Anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, followed by an encore of Cantopop Singer, Eason Chan’s Today (今日). 

“If any of you are thinking of leaving, don’t. And I don’t mean the Concert Hall, I mean Hong Kong,” said conductor Stephen Lam before the sing-a-long encore. 

“It is a truly beautiful place with talents from all over the world”. 

Though Hong Kong and Europe continue to battle COVID-19, the concert allowed audience members to, if only for a moment, unite in spirit and in music. 

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Printer: R&R Publishing Limited, Suite 705, 7F, Cheong K. Building, 84-86 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong

Cyril Ma

Cyril is a freelance writer from Hong Kong with an interest in local culture and identity. He obtained his degree in Music and Drama from the University of Birmingham with a dissertation on Hong Kong and Macau’s musical culture and identity. Outside of writing, Cyril is heavily involved in the local performance arts scene.

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