Sunday, November 28, 2010

SATOSHI on HSBC Symphony Under The Star

Happy Valley Racecourse Recreation Ground, Friday November 26

Even before the Symphony Under The Stars concert started, I have decided that I am not going to this same event next year; and that surprised me.

How can I be raving about it in my PREVIEW and yet now I am totally disappointed with it?

It has nothing to do with the orchestra or the conductor (Perry So) and definitely not the guest soloist (Boris Giltburg). They did a good job under the circumstances and the sound engineers provided a fairly good balance in the microphone placing and amplification.

What really disappointed me was the ever-problematic HKPO management. I am not privy to the thinking behind the event, but I can only assume that it is there to attract new audience… so that means I am not the target audience…. The message was very clear even on how they gave out their tickets…

The feeling I got the moment I stepped into the Recreation Ground at around 5:15pm was that I was gate crashing an HSBC private party (and I thought Swire sponsored it) and HKPO was hired for entertainment. The whole front section of the ground all the way to the frontal TV tower in the middle of the ground was reserved for HSBC VIP. While HKPO has provided the concert for free, one can only get the leftovers. It was like HSBC has invited people to witness how privileged they were. It was vulgar. It was like HSBC distributing fruits in a charity facility and telling the people they don’t get theirs until HSBC VIP got some first. It was vulgar. Whether HSBC has asked for such arrangement or HKPO has allowed it, it was mind-boggling. It just reinforced the preconception that classical music is for the elite. From an audience perspective though, I tend to blame HSBC as it should know better.

Mind you, I am all for sponsorship as long as it doesn’t interfere with the vision and mission of the sponsored organization, or in this case, the event. I don’t mind souvenir programs or venues flooded with advertisements. HKPO and HSBC has totally missed the point of a "free public concert". I believe big companies should do a bit more toward sponsorship as long as it can be sincere and not self-serving; and in return, companies should get due recognition. That is why it was mind-boggling why HSBC allowed this to happen. Why should a well-respected organization put itself out there is such a poor light?

As for the ever-problematic HKPO management, I don't even understand how the concert pass the crowd control standard here in Hong Kong. The point of having wide avenues in the recreation ground is so that if something happened there will be enough space for people to go to. Instead, the pathways were filled with people seating on their mats and there was no one there to control these unsafe behaviors. This also made a lot of the people who came in early to seat behind the pre-determined borderline very angry. It was chaotic.

So next year, I will not go to Symphony Under The Stars so that the underprivileged and the unwashed can have my ticket and my place. I can afford it anyway and I am a subscriber (for now), I will just duly support HKPO by being a paying patron. As for the people out there, if you have any liking to classical music and would like to support HKPO, buy tickets and attend a proper concert, and leave the Symphony Under The Stars to the people who can’t afford tickets and people who are not familiar with classical music and HSBC VIP's. As for HSBC, shame on you.

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At December 1, 2010 at 1:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, i saw Swire in the front, but HSBC VIP section is just at the front right corner, i think Swire is still the major sponsor of this event. Frankly speaking, as a general public, i do appreciate the support of the sponsors while without their support, surely the concert cannot be free admission. i dont mind sitting behind the tower, cus surely the sound is not good in the front, even in the concert hall i prefer sitting at the back. nothing to lose sitting at the back while stupid sponsors paid for those bad seats in the front....

At December 2, 2010 at 10:41 PM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for your comment and I agree that sponsorship is badly needed so that the concert can be made free for the public. The moral dilemma however is whether one can sponsor a FREE concert and at the same time accept a significant portion of that very FREE thing that one is sponsoring. It was very self-serving. As for seating in front or back, it is a choice; but then that very choice was taken away in this FREE concert :-)


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