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The Right Note: International Ensemble!

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With music lovers across Hong Kong anticipating the return of Musicus Fest this November, renowned cellist Trey Lee reveals just how much we have to look forward to [PHOTOS COURTESY OF Musicus Society & ©IGOR STUDIO]

Musicus Society, a Hong Kong registered charity, founded in 2010 to promote cross-cultural, international musical collaboration, is hosting its annual Musicus Fest in November. The festival’s Artistic Director, renowned cellist Trey Lee will be leading top international musicians and local talents in a series of compelling programmes with most of the concerts taking place at Hong Kong City Hall.

Launched in 2013, Musicus Fest is a meeting point for artists from across the world and as such its impetus is twofold. Firstly, it provides local music lovers with the opportunity to see talented musicians from Hong Kong and overseas perform together. Secondly, it gives Hong Kong artists and students what their counterparts overseas have long enjoyed: a chance to hone their talent through meaningful interaction with distinguished artists from different parts of the world.

Camerata Salzburg, the world-renowned resident orchestra of Salzburg’s Mozarteum Festival, is per forming twice at this year’s Musicus Fest, initially on November 25, featuring Trey as the cello soloist, and secondly at the Festival Finale on November 26, presenting Mozart’s Concertone for Two Violins and Orchestra in C and the Jupiter Symphony as central pieces. Trey is quick to point out how much Hong Kong artists and students will benefit from the collaboration.

“Camerata Salzburg are the purveyors of the Mozart sound: they’re all about tradition in that a lot of their players learnt from their teachers, who learnt from their teachers, and so on, all the way back to Mozart,” Trey says. “So, you’re talking about Mozart’s style and traditions being handed down from generation to generation. And this year, young Hong Kong musicians get to learn from them and perform with them. Local talents are going to be connected directly with Mozart, which is an amazing opportunity.”

Among the Hong Kong talents per forming with Camerata Salzburg in the Festival Finale are two rising stars: violinists Jeremy Hao, a graduate of the Mannes, Juilliard and Yale schools of music, and Fan Hiu-sing, a graduate from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München, and first prize winner of the New York International Artists Association Violin Competition.

As an additional treat for Musicus Fest audiences, Trey himself is gearing up to perform with Camerata Salzburg on November 25. The orchestra will interpret monumental works by Mendelssohn (The Hebrides Overture), Shostakovich (Cello Concerto No. 1) with Trey as solo cellist, and Beethoven (Symphony No. 7). The performance concludes Trey’s Greater China Tour with Camerata Salzburg. “This has been my first time performing with Camarata Salzburg,” he says. “I know a lot of the orchestra members because they’re all top-notch musicians, who play all over the world. I’ve worked with some of them before, and I’m just excited to be playing with all of them, the whole orchestra, at once.”

In the hands of Trey and Camerata Salzburg, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 is a tour de force accentuating the piece’s rhythmic power and relentless drive. “This is probably the closest thing that the cello repertoire has to rock ‘n’ roll or techno because it’s got this crazy beat that doesn’t stop until the final note,” Trey says. “I live in Berlin so I’m surrounded by clubs and bars and I hear techno music all the time; I’m always thinking, wow, this reminds me so much of Shostakovich. Cello Concerto No. 1 has the never-ending techno beats, funky rhythms and syncopations. It’s always pulsating and nonstop. It’s one of those pieces that has a groove to it and it’s just relentless; it’s very powerful.”

This year, Trey is delighted to welcome not only Camerata Salzburg but also award-winning French-Canadian pianist Louis Lortie to Musicus Fest. Louis, one of the foremost solo pianists in the world, will be performing with Musicus Soloists Hong Kong on November 21.

“Louis is known to be one of the world’s most elegant and sophisticated musicians, and he has great taste. There’s an old-world, gentlemanly kind of demeanour about him and his music,” Trey says. “Importantly too, he brings with him decades of experience having performed with all the bigname musicians, orchestras and conductors.

“Louis is affiliated with one of the world’s most prestigious competitions, the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Belgium,” Trey adds. “He’s used to working with talented young musicians, and we are delighted he has chosen to work with Musicus Soloists Hong Kong, which is full of Hong Kong’s very best players. It’s a great opportunity for them. Normally they just have a teacher telling them what to do in a lesson. But in this case, they’ll be playing with their teacher and performing with him.”

Among those performing with Louis at Musicus Fest are Hong Kong-born violinists Aaron Chan and Angela Chan. Aaron, who has won the Canadian Sylva Gelber Award twice, is currently a Rebanks Fellow at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Angela is a New England Conservatory graduate, and was the First Prize and Concert Performance Award winner at the 8th International Louis Spohr Competition for Young Violinists. Both were invited to join Musicus this year through its Young Artist Audition.

“Great artists are not only born with great talent, they are also influenced by their peers and those who have come before them, through traditions and knowledge passed down from previous generations,” Trey concludes. “Join us in November to witness an extraordinary collaboration between our overseas guests and Hong Kong talents.”

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