Classical Music Magazine caught up with Lady Linda Wong, founder of the KT Wong Foundation, to find out how her organisation is helping musicians make ends meet after the most challenging of years.
n 3 May, a brand new production of Handel’s La Resurrezione will air on Sky Arts. It’s been conceived of and financed by Lady Linda Wong, whose foundation has been helping musicians financially over the course of the last year.
What is the significance of performing Handel’s La Resurrezione at this current time? Why did you choose this work?
Lady Linda Wong: The KT Wong Foundation has always championed the work of Handel and I felt very strongly that this beautiful piece – with its message of a new beginning – could not be more relevant for people around the world at this time. The sense of a rebirth resonates so much with how I feel about the state of the arts today and my hope is that it will bring hope and joy to everyone who watches it.
How will the performance help musicians as they struggle with the repercussions of the pandemic?
I desperately wanted to create an opportunity for much needed work for freelance musicians during these difficult Covid times and producing the project this way meant that the money goes directly into the pockets of the musicians, who have of course lost so much work as a result of the pandemic. For most of the musicians involved this was the first opportunity they have had to perform in over a year and it was a magical feeling for everyone to finally be together making music again.
How does the KT Wong Foundation foster international collaboration?
The KT Wong Foundation was formed 13 years ago, with the aim of fostering a mutual understanding between China and the rest of the world through collaborative cultural projects. The Foundation acts as a catalyst and sponsor for innovative creative ventures and brings together artists across different disciplines. My pervading passion has always been Baroque music, and Handel in particular – introducing people to a work like La Resurrezione, which is so rarely performed, is something I’m very proud that we are able to do.
Among the Foundation’s many successful collaborative projects are the gold medal-winning lost scholar’s garden, by artist Shao Fan at the 2008 RHS Chelsea Flower Show; the production of Handel’s Semele at both the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie de Munt and the Beijing Music Festival, directed and designed by contemporary artist Zhang Huan; and a presentation in Beijing of the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed Frankenstein, as part of the NT Live series. We were the first people to bring Britten’s music to China, through productions of his Noye’s Fludde and Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as commissioning Chinese composers for violin and trumpet concertos for the premiere of the China Philharmonic Orchestra and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra debuts at the BBC Proms in 2014 and 2019 respectively.
How important has philanthropy in the arts been over the past year? How do you envisage the role of arts philanthropy changing as we recover from the pandemic?
Philanthropy in the arts has never been more important, as the cultural world draws on every resource it can to get through this terribly challenging time. The pandemic has changed every aspect of conceiving and producing cultural projects and philanthropic support now needs to reflect those considerations in order to ensure every project is of the most value to the arts world at this time. We also need to think more carefully than ever about the longevity of every project – my hope is that with La Resurrezione, which requires a relatively small ensemble, we have created a production that can be taken to other places and have a longer life than just this broadcast.
Handel’s La Resurrezione will be broadcast on Sky Arts on Monday 3 May at 7pm.