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Asian Youth Orchestra performs in Berlin (with photos)
     Berlin's discerning classical music community embraced the special performance of the Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Konzerthaus Berlin (Concert House) on August 30. The concert marked the AYO’s debut at Young Euro Classic, an annual festival specifically created for symphonic youth orchestras and the world’s most important platform for international young orchestra musicians in the European classical music tradition.
     Resident in Hong Kong, the AYO is a youth orchestra composed of more than 100 musicians from Hong Kong and several other East Asian regions. Founded by Yehudi Menuhin and Richard Pontzious in 1987, the AYO has performed over 400 concerts worldwide since its inaugural performance in 1990. Currently led by artistic director and conductor  Richard Pontzious, the AYO is conducted by principal conductor James Rudd with Sergiu Comissiona as conductor laureate.
     With young musicians between the ages of 17 to 27, the group meets every year in Hong Kong for three weeks of intensive rehearsal before concluding with an international tour of performance. Musicians are also given full scholarships to work under the tutelage of outstanding orchestral musicians from Europe and the USA. Past musical partners have included violinists Gidon Kremer and Gil Shaham, cellists Steven Isserlis and Alban Gerhardt and pianists Alicia de Larrocha and Leon Fleisher.
     To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the HKSAR and the AYO’s performance in Berlin, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Berlin (HKETO Berlin) hosted a reception in its office premises prior to the commencement of the concert. Some 50 guests joined, including AYO musicians as well as representatives from the embassies, the federal and local governments and the media.
     The reception provided a good opportunity for guests to learn more about the history and background of the AYO and the pool of gifted talents in Hong Kong’s vibrant cultural scene, as well as to interact with individual musicians. The Director of the HKETO Berlin, Ms Betty Ho shared in her welcoming remarks the achievements of AYO in nurturing music talents around Asia with Hong Kong as their base, and how the successful story of AYO resonates with the spirit of Hong Kong. Mr Richard Pontzious then provided an introduction of the AYO, the concert programme and details of the international summer tour this year.
     After the reception, the AYO delivered an outstanding performance in the renowned Konzerthaus at Berlin’s famous Gendarmenmarkt. More than 1 200 listeners enjoyed the German premiere of “As the Heart Soars” by Hong Kong composer Wong Chun-wai, followed by Max Bruch’s Concerto for Violin No.1. The AYO concluded by a resounding interpretation of the centerpiece – Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, an hour long musical novel which integrates marches, waltzes and folk songs.
     The Berlin concert was preceded by a performance in Lucerne, Switzerland on August 27, and will be followed by another one in Prague, Czech Republic on September 2.
About HKETO Berlin
     HKETO Berlin is the official HKSAR Government representative in commercial relations and other economic and trade matters in Germany as well as Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Switzerland.
Ends/Thursday, August 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 23:50
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The Asian Youth Orchestra performed in Konzerthaus Berlin in Germany on August 30 (Berlin time) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.