In the Show – 29th March 2011

“Lost Tango” (Ute Lemper and the Piazzolla Sextet)

Astor Piazzolla was born in 1921. He died in 1992. During his lifetime he created a revolution. But it wasn’t a revolution that involved guns or explosives. It involved the bandoneon and what he revolutionised was the music of the tango. In Hong Kong last weekend, the Piazzolla Sextet joined forces with German singer Ute Lemper to perform works by Piazzolla to round off this year’s Hong Kong Arts Festival. The Piazzolla Sextet includes veteran musicians who were involved with Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango Quintet since 1978, such as violinist and musical director, Fernando Suarez Paz and double bassist, Hector Console. Among the younger musicians are Piazzolla’s grandson, drummer Daniel Astor Piazzolla.

Movie Review – “Another Year”

Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” is centered on geological engineer Tom (Jim Broadbent) and counsellor Gerri (Ruth Sheen), a married couple who are nearing retirement and coming to terms with the fact they are getting older. They find respite from their jobs on an allotment, where they like to spend the hours in all weathers planting and growing their own vegetables. The movie takes us through a year in their lives, and its title “Another Year” has more than one layer of meaning. It’s partly about the cycle of the seasons but also about the erosions of time. Despite that it’s often lighthearted and warm. Gary Pollard reviews it.

Hong Kong Woman Photographers

Almost since its beginnings men have dominated photography, even though there have been occasional highly respected woman photographers like Julia Margaret Cameron and Annie Leibovitz. Usually though, particularly in Hong Kong, it’s the boys who are out at the weekends with their camera equipment and their long lenses hanging around their necks. But more and more women are turning to photography as a hobby … or as a career. We talk to two of them: Quist Tsang and Ki Wong.

In the studio – Irish pipe player Davy Spillane

Davy Spillane was born in Dublin in 1959. He’s been playing the uilleann pipes since he was twelve, as well as other Irish instruments. He’s performed with the Riverdance stage show, worked with folk musicians in America, made albums of contemporary and traditional Irish music, played with artists like Elvis Costello and Van Morrison, played on world music CDs that combine African and Celtic music, and written movie soundtracks like the soundtrack for “Rob Roy”.. On the day of our show he was performing in Hong Kong with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong . He also makes all his own instruments, one of which – the low flute – we’re delighted to have him playing for us in the studio.

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In the Show – 22nd March 2011

On today’s show, we’re talking about politics and the environment. But don’t worry. We haven’t changed from an arts programme to a current affairs programme.
Belarus Free Theatre

The Belarus Free Theatre is considered a threat to the government .It was set up in Minsk in March 2005 by husband and wife, Mikalai Khalezin a playwright and journalist, and theatre producer Natalia Kaliada. In Belarus, arts, cultural activities and television are state controlled. Since 1994 the country has been ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko, a man the Western press calls “Europe’s last dictator”.It is regularly criticised for its gross violations of human rights. The members of the group have all been arrested. Even their audience has been arrested. Now the group’s members no longer officially exist. And neither does the group itself.

Movie Review “The Adjustment Bureau”

The film “The Adjustment Bureau” is based on a 1954 short story by American science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Its main character is David Norris (Matt Damon), an up-and-coming young politician running for the United States Senate. At one point he discovers that his fate, and the fate of many others, is directed by a group of individuals who can alter the course of events. One problem is that he has fallen in love with dancer Elise (Emily Blunt), and the mysterious Adjustment Bureau is telling him, and trying to make sure, that it is not their fate to be together. He decides otherwise. Well, it is reviewer Gary Pollard’s fate to be with us here in the studio today so he’s talking to us about the movie.

Book – “When a Billion Chinese Jump”

Turning from a movie about fate and the future to a book that contains warnings about the future. There are already more than 1.3 billion people in China, and – like the rest of the world – they all want to improve their quality of life. That can cause a lot of damage to the environment. As author Jonathan Watts points out in his book “When a Billion Chinese Jump”, even though China is facing many challenges in this area the whole world has some responsibility for the problem.

Dizi performance

At the City Hall last Friday, two brothers Chan Chi-chun and Chan Chi-yuk performed a recital of music on the Chinese flute or dizi. In case you missed that, they’re going to perform one piece from that show in our studio tonight. It’s a Shandong folk tune called “Shandong Xiao Kaimen”.

In the Show – March 15th 2011

Pina Bausch “Carnations”
The great dance choreographer Pina Bausch died at the age of 68 in June 2009. She has left us a dazzling legacy of more than 40 works that blur the lines between reality and dream, and between dance and theatre. Last week, her company the Wuppertal Tanztheater was in Hong Kong to perform one of the most spectacular :”Carnations”. It’s about childhood, relations between the sexes, love, longing, desire, disappointment, and authoritarianism.

“The Body Is…” Exhibition

“The Body is…” exhibition features a series of art mannequins painted in acrylic. Fifteen teenagers have used the mannequins to express their impressions of the human body. The aim of the exhibition is to allow the young people a chance to define their sense of self and their attempts to understand life.

Pianist Wong Wai-yin in the studio

17-year-old pianist Wong Wai-yin is giving a recital in the Hong Kong Arts Centre. She’s a true child prodigy, having entered the Academy For Performing Arts at 5. Today she is in our studio to talk to us and perform Rachmaninov.

In the Show – March 8th 2011

Interview – Marianne Faithfull

The Hong Kong Arts Festival is still under way. Last week we talked to two of the classical musicians who were visiting town for the festival. This week we’re going to the other end of the musical spectrum and talking to two legendary pop performers. When the Rolling Stones started performing, they mostly sang classic Blues songs. In the early sixties, singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards began writing their own. One of the first was “As Tears Go By”. It was made a hit by Mick Jagger’s soon-to-be girlfriend: Marianne Faithfull. This week she was in town to perform at the arts festival, and gave The Works an exclusive TV interview.

Movie Review – “The King’s Speech”

“The King’s Speech” is a feel-good movie, a triumph over adversity movie, and a story about a friendship between a king and a commoner. Does it matter that so much of it is not true? Gary Pollard is in our studio to tell us more.

New York City Ballet in Hong Kong

George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins were two of the great American choreographers of the 20th century. Jerome Robbins created dances for Broadway and ballets. He’s probably best known to film-lovers for his choreography for the movie of “West Side Story”.

George Balanchine escaped to Paris from Russia in 1924. He became ballet master of the legendary Ballets Russes before settling in New York where he helped to set up the New York City Ballet. From 3rd to 7th March, the company was performing a tribute to both men in Hong Kong.

Interview – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello has been called “One of the most innovative, influential, and best songwriters since Bob Dylan”. Like Marianne Faithfull, whom we saw in part one, he has worked with many of the most talented people in contemporary music. He released his first record in the seventies in the middle of the punk music explosion. It was observant, often sarcastic, and full of wordplay and puns.Since then he’s mellowed a little. And explored an even wider area of music.

In the Show – March 1st 2011

Cecilia Bartoli and the Castrati

Many artists make huge sacrifices for their art. But not many have made as drastic or painful a sacrifice as the castrati. They were men who’d suffered the unkindest cut so their voices would combine the range of female singers with the power of male ones. Last week, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli performed two shows in Hong Kong for this year’s arts festival, one of which was dedicated to songs written especially for them.
Bach Interpreter Masaaki Suzuki

If you want to hear the music of the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach in its most authentic form, you could do worse than visit Japan, or at least see a performance by Masaaki Suzuki. Suzuki was born in Kobe, Japan. After studying in Europe, he returned to his own country, where he set up a music group to perform Bach’s music on authentic instruments. He and his ensemble were here last week for the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

10 Women Artists’ Joint Exhibition

To celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit, Sin Sin Fine Art gallery is holding an exhibition that highlights the work of ten local women artists. The exhibition “Women Artists 211” opened on February 11th, the day of the Lantern Festival. It ends next Tuesday.

Movie Reviews – “Black Swan” and “True Grit”

This week, audiences are getting the chance to catch up on the films nominated for Academy Awards this year.“Biutiful” and “The King’s Speech” are opening on Thursday. ”Black Swan” and “True Grit” are already showing. Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” is about a ballerina’s descent into fantasy and madness as she prepares for the role of a lifetime. “True Grit” is a Western about a 14-year-old girl who hires a tough US marshal to avenge the death of her father. Gary Pollard’s been to see them both.

Lin Xue’s “The Sixth Day”

In our Arts Dairy we’re looking at the work of Lin Xue who creates images of plants and organisms that are like something out of a dream. The title of his new exhibition “The Sixth Day” is a Biblical reference, and refers to the unspoiled state of the world when it was first created. The show, which also includes a collaboration of drawings and Polaroids made with Caroline Chiu, is on at Gallery EXIT in Central until the 21st of this month.

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