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K. Wah International continues to be Honorary Patron of Opera Hong Kong
Joining hands to cultivate local art scene

07 May 2017

The Barber of Seville

K. Wah International Holdings Limited (“KWIH”) continues to sponsor Opera Hong Kong (“OHK”) as the Honorary Patron, followed by a four-year sponsorship with a view of fostering the development of art and culture in Hong Kong since 2013. Warren Mok, internationally-acclaimed tenor and Artistic Director of OHK, expressed gratitude to KWIH for its vigorous support in the past four years and looked forward to another two years of harvest.

Between 2013 and 2016, KWIH donated HK$10 million to OHK and worked alongside the opera house to roll out different initiatives to support opera development, nurture local vocalists and provide opportunities for access for the younger generation and the general public. Of which, KWIH supported OHK in 8 world-class opera productions, 30 mini-opera school tours in primary and secondary schools, annual summer camps, promotions in tertiary institutions, and offered scholarships, with a view of introducing more quality performances and raising the public awareness of opera in the territory. In the next two years, KWIH has pledged another donation amounted to HK$5 million as ongoing support for OHK’s work, in hopes of further promoting opera in a wider community.  

Mr Mok considered opera as the utmost importance in the future development of Hong Kong as a metropolitan city with international influence. In the past, numerous world-class operas that came to show in Hong Kong used to be welcomed by the public and attract overseas tourists. Rich in music, singing, drama, history, literature to aesthetics, opera has plenty to offer, be it entertainment or academic studies. Opera helps the territory thrive with more positive energy while reflecting the uniqueness of Hong Kong – a city that blends well with Chinese and Western culture.

Paddy Lui (second from the left), Executive Director of KWIH, has been supporting the promotion of opera in Hong Kong.

Well trained talent to fuel music community

KWIH offers vocal scholarships in OHK to allow promising undergraduate and postgraduate students to pursue further studies and to provide them with opportunities to perform on international stage. In the past four years, 20 outstanding students won the scholarships and pursued vocal training overseas.

Louise Kwong, a local soprano singer, was one of the recipients in the first year of  “K. Wah International Vocal Scholarship”. After completing her studies in Europe, she returned to Hong Kong and continued to serve the local music community by contributing her efforts in the promotion of performance arts in Hong Kong. “Studying music is a dream of many youngsters. I am lucky enough to make my dream come true, thanks to the support of K. Wah,” said Louise, who graduated from the Music Department of The Chinese University of Hong Kong before pursuing further studies in the U.K. and the Netherlands. Studying opera needs to train singing and performance techniques in the long run, seize every opportunity to perform in opera houses in Europe to amass experience, and also to learn under the maestro’s tutelage, Louise said. The scholarship support, however, wiped away all her worries about the money needed to pursue her dream.

Louise Kwong won the Grand Second Prize, Audience Prize and Best Soprano Prize at the International Singing Competition "Ferruccio Tagliavini" in Austria in 2012 as the first prize-winning Hong Kong singer in this event, as well as the youngest competitor among the finalists. She studied in Europe with a K. Wah International Vocal Scholarship and has now returned to Hong Kong with plans to engage in early vocal education to train more all-rounded vocalists in the city.

Kris Ng is a fresh graduate from Music Major at CUHK and an infinitely passionate musician. Having received back-to-back K. Wah International Vocal Scholarships for four years, giving her the chance to have lessons with maestros and crossovers with fellow-musicians from other countries, she intended to apply for yet another K. Wah scholarship to pursue further studies abroad. Kris is convinced that with persevering effort, an artist will win appreciation eventually.

Mini opera tours in schools to inspire youngsters 

OHK organized mini opera tours in more than 30 primary and secondary schools and reached out to more than 10,000 students over the past four years. The “mini-operas” are simple, lively, short plays performed by experienced actors in costumes, complemented by an introduction of basic language and knowledge in the culture of opera. Mr. Mok said they achieved a great success every time when they visited the schools and received an enthusiastic response from the students.

Mr Mok believed that the fundamental art education could impose a far-reaching impact on youth development. Hence, OHK sees education and outreach programmes important besides nurturing local artists.

“Studying opera doesn’t mean to make every kid become a professional opera singer. Rather, we hope to nurture their musical talent and interest by teaching them the basic knowledge of opera since they are young. Through performing on stage, it also helps children boost confidence and guide them to develop positive values and aspirations.” Moreover, OHK promoted opera at tertiary institutions and attracted approximately 3,500 students to attend the performances.

 

Intensive and holistic training in summer schools to nurture future talents

The annual “K. Wah Opera Hong Kong Summer School” is to allow children and teenagers to participate in the production and perform on stage. The school opens to those aged between 5 and 18. Auditions are required and the enrolled will engage in a three-week training in singing, acting and stage performance skills as well as in the opera production. A final performance is conducted before graduation.

In addition, KWIH sponsors OHK’s children chorus concert every year, with a view of providing opportunities for young people to experience the charisma and develop interest in the performance art, as well as nurturing talents for the opera industry.

 Support from corporate institutions deemed indispensable

Having travelled wide and afar to perform, Mr. Mok shared his insights into Hong Kong’s cultural policy: “The support from the commercial institutions is of utmost importance in the art and culture industry. Similar practices in many other countries are proven successful. For example, The Metropolitan Opera in the United States runs merely by sponsorships, box office revenue and tax concessions offered by the government.” Mr Mok called on the authorities to reference the relevant policies in order to further enlist social support for the development of culture and art in Hong Kong.

 
The new joiner also observed the important role of corporate sponsorships in the development of the performance art. “If an opera house didn’t have to worry about the availability of funds, it could dare to adopt an innovative approach or give more chances to upstart performers so as to bring a refreshing experience to the audience. In addition, it would be better-positioned and prepared for longer-term planning, fueling the development of the whole industry,” Louise said.