Monthly Highlights
Talking Art : Yip Wing-sie  
Top Hong Kong conductor Yip Wing-sie is a member of the Board and Performing Arts Committee of the WKCDA. Coming from a music family, she has led the Hong Kong Sinfonietta for a decade and successfully drawn the young and overseas audience with creative collaboration with different art forms. The virtuoso believes that WKCD will be a place where local art groups call home.

Q: What was your first encounter of art and culture?

A: My mother used to teach piano at home so I started playing since I was four years old. I could naturally play the songs after hearing repeatedly without official training of tempo or music score reading. Given the limited room for development in piano, I started learning to play the violin from Mr. Lim Kek-han, who is a friend of my father’s, at ten years old so that I could join the orchestra which is beneficial to my music career. My major at the music academy was violin recital as well.

Yip Wing-sie has led the Hong Kong Sinfonietta for 10 years.
Q: Your father Dr. Yip Wai-hong is the founder of the first children choir in Hong Kong, did you join the choir when you were young?

A: My sisters and I used to join the choir practice every weekend as a family activity. We also got the chance to perform overseas in summer which was lots of fun. I sometimes emceed at the events and that’s how I was trained to be confident on stage in front of the audience.

Q: How did you become a conductor?

A: I was the first batch of students who won the Hong Kong Jockey Club scholarship and I was able to further my studies at the London Royal College of Music in 1978, minored in conducting. Under the influence of my father, I longed to create my dream music with the orchestra as a conductor. This is a very unique role.

Q: Would you still choose to be a conductor if you had a second chance?

A: It is hard to go back to recital once you become a conductor. String instrument is key in the orchestra so my violin knowledge has helped me express efficiently to the orchestra members, thus making it easier for me to earn their trust.

Q: Do you teach your children music yourself?

A: They were in school choir and had learnt playing the violin when they were young but I would only practise with them instead of teaching them myself. They like music and performance but not the practice part so I would rather encourage them to pursue their own interests. Some parents nowadays only wish their children to get higher grades in piano, often neglecting their real interests. Pressure will only make them lose interest in music.

Q: Don’t you wish your children to follow your career path in music?

A: They have their own views. My son is now in the animation industry and his music knowledge comes handy in incidental music. A musician without passion will not be able to perform with his heart even if he is talented. Unfortunately, there are some people who have both passion and talent but no family support because parents are worried about their future. Better understanding of the current music industry would ease their mind.

The “HKS McDull Music Project”
Q: Do you enjoy visual or performing arts other than music?

A: I love all kinds of performances because all art forms have certain things in common. Each artist possesses something that is worth learning so you can always improve yourself by viewing other’s works. I visit museums and galleries whenever I have time both here and abroad. Tate Modern in London is my favorite.

Q: This year is your 10th anniversary with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, how does it feel?

A: It has been a very happy collaboration with the orchestra as we grow and improve together over the past ten years. We tried collaborating with different art forms, for example, “The Standup Symphony Show” with Jim Chim, “HKS McDull Music Project” with McDull, “La Valse Remembered” and “A Soldier’s Story” with renowned choreography Yuri Ng, to bring new experience to audiences. These performances combine standup comedy, dance, lighting and stage design. Working with artists from different genres widens my horizon and I really enjoy these experiences. Moreover, we have overseas tour almost every year and we have also produced two albums in the past decade, raising our awareness overseas.

Q: What is the next milestone for the orchestra?

A: We are devoted and motivated but in need of more government funding. It is good that the funding for all art groups has been increased by 10% this year but I think the government should allocate resources according to performance. Our basic funding is slim so we will never have enough money to roll out weekly programmes if funding increment is based on a fixed percentage. Our long term goal is to have our own base so that we don’t need to perform, rehearse and do office work at different locations. I sincerely hope that the future WKCD will become the home base for all art groups so that artists can truly focus on their work and performance without any worry.

Q: What is your expectation on the West Kowloon Cultural District?

A: I hope the Authority would not only focus on the architecture, but also the acoustic design for facilities. For example, the gongs and chimes in the Xiqu Centre should sound lively but not hard on the ears so that the audience can really enjoy the performance. Instead of just consultation, the Authority should collaborate more with different art groups and tap on their expertise and experience to organise more arts and education programmes before the venues are open. Art groups will show their support when they feel respected. “The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre” held early this year was a very promising start.