Hong Kong


I am in Hong Kong taking part in a series of seminars and performances about songwriting, organised by Bright Sheng. I will post again about the content of this interesting event, which has been given the overall title Intimacy of Creativity. But our host institution, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology deserves a few words of its own.

HKUST was founded only 25 years ago and now has a world reputation living up to its brainy-sounding title. It's a 'public university' and 60% of the students come from lower-income backgrounds. We have been working in some vast, very well-appointed buildings which we learned were only built a couple of years ago. Next up will be a new concert hall on the site of a car park; that car park still has cars in it at the moment, but the hall will be finished ‘sometime during the summer’. The student body are obviously studying technical subjects as majors, including business studies, but about a third of them take music courses (that's several thousand people). I was amazed to be told today that the music theory course has a waiting list of over a hundred people wanting to sign up because there wasn't space for them last time round. A university official pointed out that (unlike in America) Chinese universities aren’t unified by sporting activities, so music will do that job instead.

I particularly mention all this because the Brexit debate so regularly relates to the idea of Britain becoming a thrusting low-tax entrepreneurial economy ‘like Hong Kong’. Finding myself in the real Hong Kong, I can't see much prospect of that.

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer

© Judith Weir, 2020