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The BBC's Damian Grammaticas
"The concerts in Hong Kong were a sell out"
 real 28k

Friday, 1 September, 2000, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Hong Kong's philharmonic 'hoax'
Hong Kong harbour skyline
Hong Kong: Duped by cash-strapped musicians?
An orchestra billed as the Moscow Philharmonic got rave reviews for its concerts in Hong Kong.

But reports that the orchestra was a fake have not been music to the ears of the concert-goers, who are now considering whether to seek refunds.

About 10,000 people paid $30 each to attend the classical music concerts given in Hong Kong between 7 and 13 August.

But the Russian agent for the Moscow Philharmonic, Yelena Tikhomirova, says the performers were not from the real orchestra, which was actually performing thousands of miles away.

Hong Kong street
Hong Kong awaits clarification from concert organisers

She says the vast majority were musicians from lesser Russian orchestras playing without either her knowledge or the blessing of the real group.

The Hong Kong Government, which helped organise the event, is trying to get to the bottom of an awkward situation.

The principal guest conductor of the real Moscow Philharmonic, Dmitri Yablonsky, told a Chinese newspaper that the orchestra could not be playing in Hong Kong at that time because it was on a tour of France, Spain and Portugal.

Investigation

The Hong Kong Government has written to the agents who organised the event, demanding clarification.

It has received a reply, but cannot decipher it because it is in Russian and is waiting for an English version.

The government is not sure whether refunds would be considered for the revellers, though many went away satisfied with the orchestra's entertainment.

Hong Kong's music lovers are having to face the embarrassment that no one spotted their mistake.

A review in a local paper talked of music full of exciting accelerandos and heart-stopping rubatos.

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