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HK icon celebrates 25th birthday

November 02, 2014

Artistic purpose

Artistic purpose:  Chief Manager Elaine Yeung says the Cultural Centre is not just a workplace but a place where people’s dreams come true.

Evoking memories

Evoking memories:  Ms Yeung recalls helping Prince Charles and Princess Diana to unveil the commemorative plaque on opening night.

Tall order

Tall order:  The Rieger organ’s 8,000 pipes were built under a tight deadline in the middle of construction chaos.

Great view

Great view:  Ms Yeung (far right) and her colleagues ventured on to the Cultural Centre’s rooftop in 1990 for a souvenir snap.

Young virtuoso

Young virtuoso:  Award-winning pianist Rachel Cheung will reunite with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra on November 7 as part of the celebrations.

Special connection

Special connection:  Ms Cheung says the stage being surrounded by the audience makes for a more intimate performance.

Located in the heart of Hong Kong, the grande dame of the city’s arts and culture scene marks a quarter of a century by the harbourfront.

 

Since it was opened on November 8, 1989, the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui has hosted artists from all over the globe in all arts disciplines - from ballet to modern dance, classical to jazz music, and Greek tragedies to contemporary plays.

 

Leisure & Cultural Services Department Chief Manager Elaine Yeung has been working at the venue since it was just a construction site, when she recalled staff walking on wooden planks over muddy ground to get to work.

 

A royal audience

Ms Yeung’s job was to prepare for the grand opening, which included installing the $10 million “pearl” of the Cultural Centre – the Rieger Orgelbau pipe organ.

 

“They had to install 8,000 pipes and they started building it in August and had to get it done by November,” she explained. But that was no easy feat in the middle of a construction project. “The organ was built on time, but after a lot of difficulties,” she added.

 

November 8 arrived fast, but Ms Yeung cannot remember all the details about the gala evening because she was so busy. What she cannot forget was her brush with British royalty, when she handed Prince Charles the draw string to unveil the commemorative plaque, which he passed on to his wife Princess Diana. She also presented the Princess with a souvenir book.

 

Young virtuoso

Rachel Cheung has grown up with the Cultural Centre as a major part of her life, so it was only natural that she would perform for the 25th anniversary celebrations.

 

The award-winning pianist is only in her early 20s, but she is already a veteran of the Cultural Centre stage, having debuted there when she was just 14.

 

“I have come here many times to listen to different kinds of performances, mostly by world-class artists and I was a bit intimidated to play here, so to get a chance to play here was a really big honour for me,” Ms Cheung said.

 

Having played in venues around the world, the young pianist said the design of the Cultural Centre stage is special because you are surrounded by the audience, which makes for a more intimate performance.

 

She will reunite with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra for a 25th anniversary concert on November 7, when she will play Beethoven’s Concerto No.4 , which she previewed for news.gov.hk.

 

As part of the celebrations - which will run until January next year - the Cultural Centre will host free indoor and outdoor performances. Twenty-five pianos will also be placed around the Piazza area so that all visitors can join in the birthday fun.



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