|Dr Andrew Freris and Dr Anabella Levin-Freris, at the conclusion of the 1st Hong Kong International Piano Competition in September 2005.
DR ANABELLA LEVIN-FRERIS is the face of the Chopin Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong International Piano Competition. Indefatigable is one description that aptly sums up the activity she involves herself in running the Competition and The Joy of Music Festivals. A qualified renal physician, she also serves as the Honorary Consul of Uruguay for HK and Macau, besides being the devoted wife and ever-present companion to her husband Dr Andrew Freris, who is the voice of the Society. Below is a short interview about the Chopin Society and its activities.
When and how did the Chopin Society of
Hong Kong come about? And why Chopin?
My husband Andrew and I have always enjoyed experiencing music and been fascinated by the different “personalities” a piece of music can adopt depending on the environment in which it is produced, the approach taken by its interpreters, and the state of mind when one listens to it.
A sort of mathematical formula once occurred to me:
Music + interpretation + environment + audience
= a unique and non–reproducible experience.
If one adds to this the different nuances introduced, whether the music is produced (“live”) or reproduced (recorded), the range of wonders that await us takes on magical dimensions.
Having had the enormous privilege of living in places as diverse as Uruguay, USA, England, Greece and Hong Kong, and repeatedly visiting many different countries, one feels humbled when faced with the culture each place has to offer. At the same time, one also feels eager to contribute, to create opportunities for each culture to be better known. The interaction of these cultures therefore introduces astronomical and cosmic variations to our formula.
|Chopin in 1849
Some 17 years ago, we bought our home in
, which happened to be a residence where Frédéric Chopin
himself performed on the London 23 June 1848. Without entering into any kind of superstitious ideas, the knowledge
of Chopin having played in “own home” gave the ownership of that abode a certain
special aura. That also gave us the impetus to create an organisation - the
Society - which could lead to the development, enhancement and realisation of
our musical formula.
That was the year 1995. The stage was the world and we were anchored in
Hong Kong. Artists, anybody who can contribute to enhance the experience of
music either by creating it, performing it or teaching it, the audience, literally
everybody interested in music could contribute to our Society. The name was
obviously and simply a homage to this great composer who played in our home in in 1848. Nothing to do with us, but definitely
inspiring and … it makes a nice story, doesn’t it? London
The world seems like a smaller place these days. You were born in
and your husband from Uruguay , and you both met in Greece . And now you are making waves with the
Society and its cultural events in London Hong Kong. Is
this globalisation at its most glorious?
I welcome globalisation with open arms. It is a fascinating, scaring, and humbling experience, but one that allows you to step higher up to see further. I look at it as an opportunity to benefit from the output of human beings from all over the world, as a magical potion to help us to join forces and conquer our universe. Of course globalisarion has its negative aspects, but that just reinforces its validity as a true wisdom enhancer.
|Vladimir Ashkenazy practising the piano at the Peninsula Hotel.
Tell us about the
Piano Competition, which thanks to the active involvement of Vladimir Ashkenazy (above) since its conception, has rapidly become one of the most important piano
competitions in the Far
East. How did the
Society get the ever-busy world renowned pianist-conductor on board?
When we started running the Society, there were two things Andrew and I had very clear in mind: one was we were starting the Society in
Hong Kong, a place which has always put great emphasis in education and cultural
development. So the Society had to contribute and create, alongside the
existing organisations which had similar goals and preoccupations.
The second thing we had in mind was that we had to learn from the interpreters, creators and teachers in
Kong and help in
establishing links with the interpreters, creators and teachers from the rest
of the world. As with any other activity taking place in the world, there is much
to be learnt from each other. One of our preoccupations was to establish links
with artists operating at the highest possible level, and that was why we
contacted Vladimir Ashkenazy. He trusted the motives that inspired us, and agreed
to be the Honorary President of the Society and the Chairman of the Jury of the
Hong Kong International Piano Competition.
We consider it a stroke of good fortune that an artist of the calibre of Vladimir Ashkenazy had accepted our invitations. The fact that he has now become a very good friend and is entirely committed to work for the benefit of
Hong Kong is another stroke of good fortune.
To be continued...