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.”