Following is the speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, at the HK Philharmonic's pre-concert reception at Barbican Hall, London on February 27 (English only):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening everybody, and a warm welcome to what will be a very special night indeed for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
And I am happy to say that you are helping us to create a little bit of Hong Kong history.
Tonight, you will witness the Hong Kong Philharmonic's European debut. It is also the first time a Hong Kong orchestra has played at the Barbican. And tonight's performance is also a prelude to debuts in Belfast, Dublin and Paris over the next seven days. So, tonight is the first in an impressive string of firsts on this tour.
Our talented musicians, under the watchful direction of Maestro Samuel Wong, have just had time to catch their breath after a week-long tour of Korea and Macau. I was fortunate enough to listen to a sneak preview of their performance earlier this month at their pre-tour opening gala in Hong Kong. As a lover of classical music myself, I know you are in for a great treat tonight.
When most people think of Hong Kong, they think of a crowded, bustling city with a stunning skyline and a magnificent harbour. We are undoubtedly a hub for business, trade, finance and tourism in the Asia-Pacific region. And we are also renowned for our shopping and fine dining.
But we are also a city full of surprises. About 40 per cent of Hong Kong is country park, which provides a verdant backdrop to the vertical lines of our skyscrapers.
And, we have a thriving cultural scene that gives our city a heart and soul through music, dance, theatre, cinema and art. We are home to some of the best performing groups in Asia, including the Hong Kong Philharmonic and one of the world's finest Chinese orchestras. We have one of the best - if not the best - arts festivals in Asia, which is taking place right now. And we are without doubt the kings of the kung-fu movie genre.
One of our greatest strengths as a community has always been our ability to blend the best of the East and the West. This eclectic and creative fusion has given us a unique edge as Asia's world city - a community where opportunity, creativity, and entrepreneurship converge to create a dynamic physical and cultural hub.
This multi-national mix is reflected in the orchestra's recruitment policy, which draws on local and international talent. The gifted men and women who bring our orchestra to life are the embodiment of the value of high quality that forms an essential part of our positioning as a world city. Their dedication to their craft, their striving for excellence, is something in which we all take pride. And that is why the Hong Kong Philharmonic is our flagship performing company - the jewel in the crown of our cultural scene.
The orchestra is also a microcosm of Hong Kong society. I am sure that when the creative juices are flowing there is a fair bit of argument and debate within any orchestra. But when all of the members knuckle down to the task at hand, and work together towards a common goal, the result is beautiful harmony. It is the collective effort of each and every player that makes an orchestra great.
Similarly, anyone who has been to Hong Kong will know that we are a fairly lively, argumentative, and noisy lot. But when you look at Hong Kong in its entirety, you will see an amazing metropolis that hums to the rhythm of the global market. You will see a city that beats the drum of free trade. You will see a community striving for excellence as the services hub of Asia. But, as the old saying goes, seeing is believing. So why not come and see for yourself everything that we have on offer in Hong Kong, Asia's world city.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy tonight's performance. Thank you all for coming. And thanks, once again, for being a part of our orchestra's debut in London, and Europe.
End/Friday, February 28, 2003