Other than the ones run directly under the government body LCSD (Leisure and Cultural Services Department), there are the music venues at the various music institutions and universities as well, such as the ones at Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts (Recital Hall, Concert Hall, Theatre), Hong Kong Baptist University (Academic Hall), Chinese University of Hong Kong (Lee Hysan Concert Hall), Hong Kong University (Grand Hall at the Lee Shau Kee Lecture Centre), and Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Jockey Club Auditorium) etc to name a few. As these venues are maintained by the music departments of the higher institutions, the pianos there are of much higher qualities and better maintained. However, most of them, as a matter of course, serve as the breeding grounds for their own institutes’ musical and cultural growth, and therefore, are proven to be difficult in booking them for concert purpose if not organized with the schools themselves.
To book a concert hall (those under LCSD) for performance here in Hong Kong, officially you have to apply six months in advance, no sooner or later. If you are lucky, you might get a spare slot in less than the official booking period of time when someone changes his/her mind and frees a spot up for you. Then, embrace yourself to face reading a lot of instructions and filling in pages of forms. There will be numerous times of going back and forth of the application procedures between you and the staff responsible for the venue. Don’t get me wrong – usually they are nice enough to help you with the application and remind you if you miss any details – it’s just the fact that there are a lot to handle for one application. Good thing is if you do that every single year with the same venue, you will get used to it. Just be reminded, six months is a must (even you might just get lucky sometimes). If you apply for it too late, I suggest you try queue for a mark six lottery ticket instead. And if they ever grant you a time slot to book their venue, pay at once! Do not ever delay the confirmation, or else you will lose it in no time. (Believe me, because I have been there)
To book a hall with two grand pianos is officially proven to be almost impossible. Recently I have been looking for a hall for that purpose but to no avail. Finally I found a hall with really nice pianos, however it is not available for the weekend. My question is: don’t they understand that concerts usually occur during the weekends because that is the time that the audience is free to attend them? Or is it just that they do not want to open their hall to the public? I surely hope that the government body and organizations responsible for promoting cultural and performing arts performance and education would do something about it. I believe that we need some community halls with decently maintained grand pianos for small-scale music events organized on a more regular basis. After all, local musicians need more opportunities to perform, and music teachers to provide for students chances to gain experience and build confidence. This is one of the most important ways to promote the importance of music education and increase the awareness of it among the general public in any society.
*There are some more halls – for example community halls and churches – but I shall not continue to discuss them in this article. And if I were to talk further about the phenomenon of the West Kowloon Promenade to say the least, that would be under another topic title with keywords “business” and “where is the art” …