Music connects

PolyU Orchestra from Hong Kong plays together with the Academic Orchestra of the University of Stuttgart

More than 150 musicians performed together at the Partnership Concert at the University of Stuttgart. The audience was thrilled.
[Photo: Samuel Müller]

The Academic Orchestra of the University of Stuttgart and the PolyU Orchestra from Hong Kong had invited to a partnership concert on 4 June. The motto – music connects — could not have been better. To bring a close to a special concert evening at the main auditorium on the Campus City Center, the two orchestras performed together the first movement of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 2 in D major as if they were one. The more than 150 musicians, for whom it was a really tight squeeze on the stage, had only one evening to rehearse, as Veronika Stoertzenbach, Director of the Academic Choir and Orchestra at the University of Stuttgart, said.

Rector Wolfram Ressel (l.) and vice-president of PolyU Hong Kong, Prof. Ben Young. (c) Johannes Wittgenstein
Rector Wolfram Ressel (l.) and vice-president of PolyU Hong Kong, Prof. Ben Young.

The two orchestras are no strangers to each other. In September 2018, the Academic Orchestra of the University of Stuttgart went on a trip to Asia, where the two ensembles were brought together. “It was the best stop on our journey,” emphasized the Rector of the University of Stuttgart, Prof. Wolfram Ressel, and once again sincerely thanked the hosts for the hospitality. In view of the mixed orchestras, the vice-president of PolyU Hong Kong, Prof. Ben Young, spoke of a new form of student exchange. And he lived up to his promises when he offered the audience in the full lecture hall the prospect of a very special evening.

The concert evening started lively and vigorously with Gustav Mahler: The Academic Orchestra played the second movement of Symphony No. 1 in D major, “The Titan“. Then the PolyU Orchestra, conducted by Kin-fung Leung, offered the audience an extraordinary sound experience from the Middle Kingdom with Tan Dun's “Crouching Tiger Concerto”, which earned international acclaim through his Oscar-awarded film score for “Tiger and Dragon”. In this work, a lurking tiger took shape musically, drums and bamboo flute led through a bamboo forest, and there were encounters on the Silk Road. Soloist Benny Lam Yip-chun conjured enchanting sounds from his cello.

Violinist with Orchestra (c) Johannes Wittgenstein
Virtuoso violin playing

No less impressive were the “Butterly Lovers“. In the Violin Concerto by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, soloist Howard Fong Ho-Kee with his virtuoso violin playing, together with the orchestra, made gentle butterflies dance in the lecture hall. Those who recalled the song “When you believe me“ by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston when listening to the “Dance of the Yao Tribe“ by Liu Tie-shan and Mao Yuan, remembered correctly. In fact, the underlying melody of the festive dance was adapted in this pop song and in this way became internationally known.

 Veronika Stoertzenbach, Director of the Academic Choir and Orchestra and Leung Kin-fung. (c) Dirk Coehne
Veronika Stoertzenbach, Director of the Academic Choir and Orchestra and Leung Kin-fung.

After about two and a half hours, there was of course an encore for the enthusiastically applauding audience, and finally standing ovations for the musicians of the two united orchestras.

Note: Summer at the Züblin-Haus
The Academic Choir and the Academic Orchestra of the University of Stuttgart will perform Poulenc and Brahms on 12 and 13 July at the Züblin-Haus. More information [de].

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