Saturday, October 29, 2005

Latin passion 拉丁情懷

香港管弦樂團今晚(10月28日)的拉丁情懷音樂會,是情迷拉丁藝術節的一部份。不過可以在音樂廳演奏而為人熟悉的拉丁音樂不算多。管弦樂團可算用心良苦,選奏一些著名作曲家的和拉丁美洲有關連的作品。

第 一首是蓋希文的古巴序曲 Gershwin's Cuban Overture,是蓋希文在1932年訪問古巴兩星期後的作品,可以說是美國人在古巴的感覺。第二首是雷史碧基的巴西印象 Respighi's Brazilian Impressions,是雷史碧基在1927年訪問巴西後的作品。雷史碧基的意大利音象作品羅馬之松和羅馬之泉非常著名,而這巴西印象卻有少許拉丁風 味。第三首是柯普蘭的墨西哥沙龍 Copland's El Salon Mexico。柯普蘭在 1932年旅遊墨西哥,造訪一間舞廳,之後寫了這首作品。我覺得這三位著名作曲家雖然刻意表達拉丁美洲印象,在音樂中加入 Rhumba 和 Tango 元素,但和熱情的拉丁音樂比較仍較拘謹。

終曲是法雅的火祭之舞 Falla's Ritual Fire Dance。這曲不是拉丁美洲音樂,而是西班牙音樂。但可以聯想拉丁美洲近代史,和西班牙殖民的關係,就可知拉丁美洲音樂的強烈節奏感有西班牙的根。火之祭正是如此,其舞蹈節奏比前三首更拉丁。

節 目的精華是兩首手風琴和結他的二重奏,是皮亞蘇拉的手風琴及結他雙協奏曲 Piazzolla's Concerto for Bandoneon and Guitar 和哥比因的往事 Cobian's Nostalgias。這兩位是阿根廷作曲家,兩首作品都極有拉丁風格,舞蹈節奏感極強。第二首更配合現代舞探戈演出。不得不提今晚結他部份由楊雪霏演 奏,她來自北京,在英國深造,現已享譽國際。她的技巧成熟,感情豐富,演出極流暢,為我今晚一大收穫。

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Emperor concerto 皇帝協奏曲

今晚(10月7日)香港管弦樂團在文化中心的音樂會主題是皇帝與新世界,是指貝多芬的皇帝鋼琴協奏曲 Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 Emperor 和德伏扎克的新世界交響曲 Dvorak's New World Symphony,還有一首羅永暉的無極意象。

無極意象可想而知是現代音樂,是羅永暉1996年慶祝區域市政局成立10週年的委約作品。此曲沒有明顯旋律,只有音效,但效果不錯,表達了趙無極抽象山水畫境界,可算是現代音樂成功之作。

皇 帝鋼琴協奏曲由意大利鋼琴家甘柏尼拉 Michele Campanella 擔任獨奏。貝多芬這首降E大調第5號鋼琴協奏曲因其構思宏偉壯麗,內容似在表現王者的威容,所以被稱為皇帝協奏曲。貝多芬把協奏曲華彩樂段風格放到樂曲開 頭,由第一樂章的開始,鋼琴便以飛快的琶音確立鋼琴獨尊的地位。第二樂章細緻動人,鋼琴融入了樂團,配合得非常理想。第三樂章迴旋曲是貝多芬非常出名的樂章,活力非凡。



甘柏尼拉經驗豐富,技巧無瑕可擊。他有長者之風,演出有板有眼,充分表現皇帝的威嚴。但我卻希望此曲的演繹能夠再活潑一些。

新世界交響曲大家都很熟悉了。我較為喜歡的是第一樂章的戲劇性。大家都說第二樂章的主旋律來自黑人靈歌 Swing Low,但我聽來聽去都覺得不一樣,可能是在旋律形態上有少許相似。但這旋律和其後的發展都非常感情豐富和憂怨,切合思鄉之情。第四樂章非常宏偉,但我每次聽到都會想起雷達噴即殺的主題曲,不知這對推廣音樂有無幫助。

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Population

The September issue of Scientific American raised an important issue: Crossroads for Planet Earth. The entire issue is dedicated to this theme. The important message is that we have come to a point where what we do in the next 50 years will drastically affect the future of mankind. The significance is that most of us will witness the change within our lifetime. The topics covered were: population, extreme poverty, sustainability of variety of life, energy with less carbon, agriculture, public health and global economy. Every one of them is a well talked about subject affected by short-sighted politics.

While all these subjects are important, I think they all stem from one problem: too many people. Thus I find the article by Joel Cohen on human population most interesting. There are some facts on demographic.
- By 2000, old people outnumbered young people.
- By 2007, urban people will outnumber rural people.
- Since 2003, the median woman had too few or just enough children to replace herself and the father.

In the 21st century, there will be three unique transitions in human history. First, we are the only generation that lived through a doubling of the human population: from 3 billion in 1960 to 6.5 billion in 2005. The peak annual growth rate was 2.1% occurred between 1965 and 1970. Second, the annual growth rate dropped to 1.2% since 1970. This is the first time in history that the population growth rate was resulted from choices by billions of couples to limit the number of children born. Third, there will be an enormous shift in the demographic balance between the more developed regions and the less developed ones. In 1950, the less developed regions had twice the population of the more developed regions, by 2050 the ratio will exceed 6 to 1.

Joel Cohen mentioned four major underlying trends expected to dominate changes in the human population in the next 50 year: that the population will be bigger, slower-growing, more urban and older.

Scientists estimated that our planet could only provide room and food for about 10 billion people. We now have 6.5 billion people. Assuming that fertility will continue its downward trend, the median projection is 9.1 billion people in 2050. If women had on average just one-half child more than assumed, the 2050 population would be 10.6.billion. Furthermore, if 2005 fertility rates remained constant to 2050, population would reach 11.7 billion. Most of us will witness within our lifetime whether there will be a catastrophe in 2050.

Our problems are not just numbers. The urbanization trend means more people will live in cities which are mainly located in arable, fertile lands or coastal lands which are centres of food production. Urbanization of the population will erode the capability of the planet to produce food.

Another problem is the aging of the population. See this projection of the world population by age group. The change is quite obvious.



Urbanization will interact with the transformation of human society by aging. The mobility of younger and better educated workers often weakens traditional kin networks that provide familial support to elderly people. After 2010, most countries will experience a sharp acceleration in the rate of increase of elderly dependency ratio, i.e. the number of people aged 65 and older to the number aged 15 to 64. This will first occur more acutely in the more developed countries, whereas the least developed countries will experience a slow increase in elderly dependency after 2020.

The economic burden imposed by elderly people will depend on their health, on the economic institutions available to offer them work, and on the social institutions on hand to support their care. Because an older person relies first on his or her spouse in case of difficulty, marital status is also a key influence on living conditions among the elderly. Married elderly people are more likely to be maintained at home rather than institutionalized.

The sustainability of the elderly population depends in complex ways not only on age, gender and marital status, but also on the availability of supportive offspring and on socioeconomic status, notably education attainment. Better education in youth is associated with better health in old age. The strategy to improve the sustainability of the coming wave of older people is to invest in educating youth today, including education in those behaviours that preserve health and promote the stability of marriage. Another strategy is to invest in the economic and social institutions that facilitate economic productivity and social engagement among elderly people.