American poet William Carlos Williams gave us this gem: “In summer, the song sings itself.” It’s July and summer is definitely here, with its blazing heat and flash rains that punctuate the stretches of blue sky. The song’s indeed singing itself—things are in easy flow and music is all around. Tunes are still ringing in my ears from two recent events, the First Initiative Foundation’s (FIF) In Harmony fundraising gala and, at the other end of the sonic spectrum, Canton Disco’s 30th anniversary party.
In Harmony drew together the city’s sophisticates and cultural icons, including this month’s cover star and FIF ambassador, Carina Lau, for a spectacular evening of food, wine and, of course, music. FIF founder Michelle Ong always revels in delivering something superlative and unexpected. At a previous gala, she presented the incomparable American soprano Renée Fleming. For this year’s summer edition, Ong lined up Chinese pianist Sa Chen and France’s Diotima Quartet, who performed César Franck’s Piano Quintet in F Minor— and what a fantastic choice it was. I’m no classical buff, but listening to these five virtuosos play the thrilling and dramatic music was a sheer joy. In Franck, I heard the roots of modern cinematic scoring, in particular the pulsating tension of Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Hitchcock’s favoured composer. I’ll be sure to check out more of this impressionistic composer; bravo to Ms Ong for opening our ears once again. To see our exclusive and extensive report on the FIF In Harmony event, turn to page 145.
It was music of another kind, however, when hundreds of erstwhile scenesters gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Canton Disco. It may have been held at Central’s Lupa, but the mood was distinctively Kowloon as the former regulars reunited (many in acid-wash denim!) to moonwalk, body-pop or simply flail around again to synth-pop and street groove. For those of you who were too young to remember, Canton was the king of nightclubs from 1985 to 1991, when Lan Kwai Fong hadn’t evolved into the behemoth it is today. Situated on Tsim Sha Tsui’s Canton Road (hence the name), the sprawling venue was the place to be, thanks to its savvy founder and nightlife impresario, Andrew Bull. Thirty years later, it’s still the place to be, judging by the great turnout. For more, turn to page 70, where you’ll find the wild party captured by the distinctive lens of Crazy Rouge.
Let the music play on!
kings of kowloon My wife, Jackie, and I had a proper old-school time with nightlife impresario Andrew Bull (centre) at the 30th anniversary party for Canton Disco