Author Topic: The First Hong Kong International Chromatic Harmonica Competition  (Read 519 times)

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Offline The Lone Harper

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I returned yesterday from attending the first Hong Kong International Chromatic Harmonica Competition. I had a great time and I am sure that you all would have enjoyed it very much. The standard of playing right across the board was unbelievably high, indeed in the 40 years that I have been attending harmonica events around the world this was hands-down the highest level of playing I have ever witnessed. Strange as this may sound, hearing these players perform actually gave me an increased respect for our instrument and couldn't help but inspire others to achieve great things on our chosen instrument. I used to think that on a good day I was a reasonable player but I certainly received a reality check hearing all of the contestants playing pieces that I struggle with flawlessly at lightening speed! Now in fairness all of the contestants were playing classical or classically oriented music and so in a sense it might be unfair to compare their ability or interpretation to what we might have heard at SPAH conventions when they used to be predominantly chromatic. Even so, their technical abilities on the instrument were well beyond anything I've ever heard at any SPAH convention. I should also mention that even though S.E. Asian players have been criticized in the past for being technically good but lacking feeling or interpretation, I honestly don't think that that is a valid criticism any more. I felt that there was a lot of passion and feeling in their playing.

The whole event was very professionally run. There were a selection of set pieces that the competitors could choose from for the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. The quarter finals were done with piano accompaniment, the semi-finals with string quartet, and the finals with orchestra. The organizers intended to have this event be at the same standard as as any other international classical instrument competition with the aim being to have it be officially recognized by the organization that oversees international music competitions.. 

The majority of contestants were from Hong Kong with others from Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Iran and Switzerland. From what I understand there were originally going to be finalists from 11 countries but because of the pandemic the whole event had to be continually delayed over the last 3 years which messed things up a bit. It is a shame that there were no contestants from North America or other parts of the world, but hopefully that might change in the future. Interestingly despite most players I spoke to saying that the harmonica isn't very popular in their countries, they all have core groups of very dedicated players that is reflected in the very high standard of playing.

It was a treat to see Robert Bonfiglio, Sigmund Groven, Yasuo Witani, Antonio Serrano, and Cy Leo perform. Sadly none of us are getting any younger but the senior artists were still able to perform at a virtuosic level and their playing was very inspiring.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2023, 09:39:08 AM by The Lone Harper »
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Offline Vale

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Re: The First Hong Kong International Chromatic Harmonica Competition
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2023, 10:21:37 AM »
Thank you for this detailed description. I have been following it a little via Cy Leo's social media profile and it really sounded like a high-profile event.
Hopefully, there will be some recordings online.
Have a chromatic day!
Vale

Offline Age

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Re: The First Hong Kong International Chromatic Harmonica Competition
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2023, 12:36:45 PM »
Fantastic! On so many levels, I'm a happy man!

Offline truckpartsaus

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Re: The First Hong Kong International Chromatic Harmonica Competition
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2023, 03:22:29 PM »
I returned yesterday from attending the first Hong Kong International Chromatic Harmonica Competition. I had a great time and I am sure that you all would have enjoyed it very much. The standard of playing right across the board was unbelievably high, indeed in the 40 years that I have been attending harmonica events around the world this was hands-down the highest level of playing I have ever witnessed. Strange as this may sound, hearing these players perform actually gave me an increased respect for our instrument and couldn't help but inspire others to achieve great things on our chosen instrument. I used to think that on a good day I was a reasonable player but I certainly received a reality check hearing all of the contestants playing pieces that I struggle with flawlessly at lightening speed! Now in fairness all of the contestants were playing classical or classically oriented music and so in a sense it might be unfair to compare their ability or interpretation to what we might have heard at SPAH conventions when they used to be predominantly chromatic. Even so, their technical abilities on the instrument were well beyond anything I've ever heard at any SPAH convention. I should also mention that even though S.E. Asian players have been criticized in the past for being technically good but lacking feeling or interpretation, I honestly don't think that that is a valid criticism any more. I felt that there was a lot of passion and feeling in their playing.

The whole event was very professionally run. There were a selection of set pieces that the competitors could choose from for the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. The quarter finals were done with piano accompaniment, the semi-finals with string quartet, and the finals with orchestra. The organizers intended to have this event be at the same standard as as any other international classical instrument competition with the aim being to have it be officially recognized by the organization that oversees international music competitions.. 

The majority of contestants were from Hong Kong with others from Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Iran and Switzerland. From what I understand there were originally going to be finalists from 11 countries but because of the pandemic the whole event had to be continually delayed over the last 3 years which messed things up a bit. It is a shame that there were no contestants from North America or other parts of the world, but hopefully that might change in the future. Interestingly despite most players I spoke to saying that the harmonica isn't very popular in their countries, they all have core groups of very dedicated players that is reflected in the very high standard of playing.

It was a treat to see Robert Bonfiglio, Sigmund Groven, Yasuo Witani, Antonio Serrano, and Cy Leo perform. Sadly none of us are getting any younger but the senior artists were still able to perform at a virtuosic level and their playing was very inspiring.
Thanks mate. 👍👍

Offline The Lone Harper

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Re: The First Hong Kong International Chromatic Harmonica Competition
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2023, 11:18:23 AM »
Hong Kong's Radio 4 will be broadcasting a recording of the grand final at 8pm Saturday Hong Kong time, and the master concert at 8pm Sunday Hong Kong time. Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of Washington D.C. time, so both broadcasts will be at 8am on those same days on the east coast.

You can listen to the live broadcasts over the net at

https://onlineradiobox.com/hk/rthk4/?cs=hk.rthk4
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Offline Vale

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Re: The First Hong Kong International Chromatic Harmonica Competition
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2023, 11:32:57 AM »
Thank you for sharing, Lone Harper!
Have a chromatic day!
Vale