The Hong Kong Singers is the longest established theatrical group in Hong Kong. We are always trying to complete our archives, and there is some controversy about when exactly we were formed. Thanks to the tremendous generosity of former members, in particular Marie Murphy, Harry Ridsdale and George Stoney, we have an almost complete run of programmes from 1947 to the present day. The 18 November 1947 programme, for a memorial service for those who lost their lives in the two world wars, lists performances going back to 23 March 1935, when we performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah. However, there is no mention that this was the first ever performance by The Singers. Indeed, our 50th Anniversary performance of The Merry Widow was staged in 1983, which suggests that we were founded in 1933. There is also evidence to suggest that we were founded in 1931 – and it is this date that we are sticking to!
In our early years, our performances were usually of oratorios, including a number of renditions of Elijah, Handel’s Messiah and Brahms’ Requiem. We also presented Mozart’s Requiem a few times, most recently to commemorate the composer’s 200th birthday in 1956. Our last concert before the years of the Japanese occupation was Haydn’s Creation, an uplifting piece presented to the troops at Stanley Fort in May 1941.
1947 saw us up and running again, under the baton and chairmanship of Sir Lindsay Ride. Our productions continued to be oratorios and secular pieces such as madrigals and part-songs. However, the flavour changed in 1959 when we performed Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, the first fully-staged show to be presented in Hong Kong for twenty years. This was seen as a gamble at the time (the entire show was funded by the then Committee) but it paid off. We were then privileged to present the first show in the newly completed City Hall Theatre when Chu Chin Chow opened on 13 March 1962.
The rest, as they say, is history. Over the years we have presented just about all the classics from The West End and Broadway. In 1998 we were incorporated as a non-profit-making company and we are recognised as a company of a charitable nature by the Inland Revenue Department. The company is actively managed on behalf of the community of Hong Kong by the Committee of The Hong Kong Singers.
Historical Notes by