butterflies and birds

Last weekend the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra performed “梁山伯祝英台” (The Butterfly Lovers) at City Hall. It’s a song I grew up listening to while dancing around the living room with my sister. The night’s program also included five other pieces, specifically featuring the violin and the guqin. The ones that included the whole orchestra were the most exciting to me; I liked seeing the instruments gathered together and watching something like ten erhu moving in sync. There was also an instrument I had never seen before, like large black pipes of varying heights. The color reminded me of smooth black stones you find at the beach. The third song was a world premiere performance that made me think of scenes from a Zhang Yimou film, and later my friend told me it was composed by Zhao Jiping, who has arranged music for many films by Zhang Yimou.

Earlier that day I’d given a talk to some US interns on literature and the arts in Hong Kong, after which I met up with J & K in Prince Edward for dimsum at Bird & Basket, a restaurant with painted birds on its walls and birdcages hanging from its ceilings.

It was a rather satisfying day, if slightly warm and muggy. After the concert we stood for a moment in the City Hall garden, looking up at the clouds and the lights of the familiar Central buildings.

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