The canal city of Suzhou, one of the more remarkable sights from China's Li River

The canal city of Suzhou, one of the more remarkable sights from China's Li River

26 October–4 November 2012

THE SCRATCH® ORIENTAL INTERLUDES

Yangtze River and Hong Kong

More about this trip

About the places
The Yangzte River, also known as China’s ‘Golden Waterway’, flows through the heart of China and offers unparalelled access to the country’s history, scenery and culture. China’s oldest civilisations developed along its banks; the gorges are deep and spectacular, and the landscapes through which the ships pass bring to life the images we have come to recognise on Chinese paintings and porcelain. The scenery of the Three Gorges is especially magnificent, crowned by the staggering engineering achievement of the Three Gorges Dam which generates more electric power than any other hydro-electric installation in the world. For a short video click here (opens in a new window).

Hong Kong, a British crown colony from 1842 to 1997, buzzes with the twin traditions of East and West. Culture and commerce are crammed tightly together in this densely populated island, with English as a second language spoken by at least a third of its inhabitants. Western-style cultural organisations such as the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts co-exist happily with a high regard for martial arts and traditional Chinese practices such as feng shui. Our concert will take place in the sumptuous surroundings of the Academic Community Hall which opened in 1978 as part of the Hong Kong Baptist University.

The final part of the trip, for those who can stay on, offers a choice of Beijing (Forbidden City), Xi’an (Terracotta Warriors) and Shanghai (stunning 1930s architecture, Chinese style) or the Li River with its wonderful canal cities of Hanzhou and Suzhou (see right) and the chance to see pandas in the wild.

About the music
The two ‘serious’ works for the concert (Haydn’s ‘Nelson’ Mass and Vivaldi’s Gloria) are balanced by light-hearted fare for the cruise in the shape of choruses from the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. You can’t possibly miss singing the opening chorus of The Mikado in this setting, with its mock-eastern pentatonic melody, even if we are in China rather than Japan! The Vivaldi is extremely well known, and a comparatively easy sing, while the so-called Nelson Mass was written as Napoleon’s armies threatened the gates of Vienna. While the Mass contains some wonderfully exuberant music, you can hear the menace and fear in the final movement (Agnus Dei).

About the performers
Brian Kay, Principal Conductor of The Really Big Chorus, will be musically in charge. We will have a pianist from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with us on the cruise, and a small orchestra of Chinese players for the concert; details will be given here once they are confirmed. The names of our vocal soloists will also be announced nearer the time.

Come and join in!

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