Yip Wing-sie

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

THE CEL­E­BRATED MU­SIC DI­REC­TOR OF THE HONG KONG SIN­FONI­ETTA TALKS ABOUT HOW A SUM­MER CAMP PROJECT WAS THE CAT­A­LYST THAT LED HER DOWN A NEW CA­REER PATH

From the mo­ment she was old enough to con­tem­plate the fu­ture, Yip Wing-sie knew her life and ca­reer were des­tined to re­volve around mu­sic. Born to par­ents who met while stu­dents at the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory in Beijing, she grew up in Hong Kong play­ing the vi­o­lin, singing in her fa­ther’s chil­dren’s choir, lis­ten­ing to sym­phonies ev­ery night with her fam­ily and at­tend­ing mu­sic camps each sum­mer.

Yip, who has been the mu­sic di­rec­tor of the Hong Kong Sin­foni­etta since 2002 and was the res­i­dent con­duc­tor of the Hong Kong Phil­har­monic Orches­tra for 14 years be­fore that, orig­i­nally be­lieved she was des­tined to be a vi­o­lin­ist. “My par­ents as­sumed that the vi­o­lin would be my in­stru­ment, as I prac­tised it all hours of the day. How­ever, a project I was given as a teenager changed all that.’’

At the age of 15, Yip was asked to con­duct a per­for­mance at her mu­sic camp. De­spite her ner­vous­ness at lead­ing her peers, she found the ex­pe­ri­ence life-chang­ing. “I never felt the same pas­sion for play­ing the vi­o­lin as I do for con­duct­ing. Work­ing in an orches­tra with a group of peo­ple is al­ways go­ing to be re­ward­ing, but what I love about con­duct­ing is that you are play­ing all the in­stru­ments, rather than just one, and get­ting to trans­form what the com­poser had in mind into real sound. You have to de­velop a cer­tain skill in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with peo­ple so they do things your way, which is def­i­nitely use­ful for life too.”

As me­men­toes, Yip chose four bat­tered books on con­duct­ing tech­nique, which she has car­ried with her to con­certs around the world. She also in­cluded the sheet mu­sic she prac­tised and the CDS she lis­tened to as a young girl. “Cer­tain sym­phonies take me back to those years. Mu­sic is my life and it al­ways has been,” says Yip. “I feel very priv­i­leged to be able to say that.”

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