No one could have foretold the unprecedented damage inflicted upon the arts scene by COVID-19. Like our counterparts in other parts of the world, the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble's local performances and international tours were grounded to a halt with lockdowns in effect globally in 2020.
Many of our colleagues promptly responded to the situation by embarking on online performance series, which had quantifiable and limited success initially. However, the content-space for online performance quickly became oversaturated, often with subpar quality productions. HKNME’s administrative team came to this assessment early on in the pandemic, and decided that the ensemble’s strategy is to remain committed to live small-scale productions as much as circumstances would permit; as well as have suitable back-up plans if live performances were not possible. In addition, we focused more intensely on our several practice-based research projects.
For two months in late 2020, when performance venues were briefly open to the public again, our HKNME musicians quickly came together and presented a number of live events. In stark contrast to sterile, ‘distant’ online formats, these events were met with warm enthusiasm from both musicians and audience, who were able to experience in-person music-making with a renewed sense of appreciation.
It is with this experience in mind that we developed our OUT:reach season overview for 2021. To be sure, the idea of outreach (educational) initiatives is embedded into our programmes this upcoming season. But our vision for “outreach” goes far beyond the conventional sense of the word:
• OUT: working outside conventional performance spaces / outside our existing circle of collaborators
• reach: reaching our community of audience in new ways amidst the pandemic
Uncertainties will continue to plague the future, but our ensemble will confidently adapt to the ‘new normal’ by means of a fluid and flexible season planning strategy, with the hope of gradually paving way for regular, larger scale events moving forward. Season 2021 - 22 is an extraordinary opportunity where we can turn the lockdown into an advantage with an unprecedentedly open and collaborative artistic framework. We look forward to meeting you along the way, sharing ideas and great performances, regardless of the "social distance".