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The University of Hong Kong Bulletin

Music Master Class
Music in Words initiative gives concert audiences a glimpse inside the musician’s world.
01 NOV 2014


One of the final elements of HKU’s Centennial Campus to be completed was the state-of-the-art Grand Hall in the Lee Shau Kee Lecture

Centre. This multifunctional box-in-box structure is now the spectacular setting for University and international events including

concerts, screenings, academic conferences and lectures.


But the Cultural Management Team (CMT), set up to look after the Grand Hall’s cultural programming, want it to offer more

than most arts venues. “We had this vision,” said Sharon Lu, CMT’s Programme Director. “Where the Grand Hall stands now was

previously a reservoir, supplying water to nearby residents. We decided to view the Hall as a reservoir of culture – we want people

to drink in culture instead of water.”

Learning element

And they wanted there to be a learning element in the process. “HKU is after all a learning institution,” said Professor Daniel

Chua, former Head of the School of Humanities. “We were talking about how we could do it differently to City Hall – and we

thought ‘we’re a university – let’s let the brain hang out!’” One result of this thinking is an initiative called  Music in Words (MiW),

whereby music concerts at the Grand Hall, include a conversation with the musicians who are performing – usually an

informal chat about the piece they are playing  and their approach to it.


Conversation with the Quartet helped make the music more understandable to audience members – whether they are

musicians themselves or laymen,” he said.


A more unexpected product of the MiW chats is that they create a very different feel in the auditorium. “Talking breaks down

the glass wall between performers and audience,” said Professor Chua. “The result is an ambience that is more intimate.”

Music in Words comes under the umbrella of MUSE – My University Spotlight Encounters – a series of programmes set up

by CMT with the aim, in Ms Lu’s words, of “bringing diverse, interesting and inspiring programmes” to the campus.


To learn more about MUSE, please go to

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