Music to your ears: New MTR campaign brings classical symphonies to daily commute

Classical music will be broadcast on trains and in MTR stations as part of a collaboration with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo: YouTube/MTR Hong Kong
Classical music will be broadcast on trains and in MTR stations as part of a collaboration with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo: YouTube/MTR Hong Kong

A collaboration between the MTR and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is bringing the best of classical music to your busy commute.

From Friday to Apr. 3, a number of classical pieces—including the work of composers Mozart and Wagner performed by the orchestra—will be played at station concourses and on MTR trains.

“The intention is to refresh and enlighten Hong Kong passengers during the pandemic through beautiful and enchanting melodies,” a statement put out by the MTR says.

The campaign, punnily called “Phil Your MTR Ride With Music,” is part of the public transport company’s “Art in MTR” art appreciation program.

For a music video produced in conjunction with the campaign, members of the orchestra converted part of Central station and a train compartment into their stage.

“Over the past months, the HK Phil has demonstrated great resilience in facing unexpected changes. It is our mission to share classical music in any accessible way with people in the city and beyond, not just in designated venues,” said Mr Benedict Fohr, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

Not everybody, however, is all jazzed up about the campaign. Online, some Hongkongers brought up the MTR controversy in 2015, when staff on several occasions stopped students because the musical instruments they had in tow were deemed too large to be allowed on trains.

Many accused the MTR for double standards in enforcing their rules. Mainland Chinese parallel traders who boarded trains with oversized suitcases bound for Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau stations, near the Shenzhen border, did not seem to be stopped, some argued.

In comments left on MTR’s Facebook page, one person posted a picture of a schoolgirl carrying a Chinese stringed instrument called a guzheng in Tai Wai station, being questioned by MTR staff. The photo went viral at the time, and even prompted a protest at the station the following month.

“I want to ask, how did [the people in the music video] bring their instruments into the station?” Another Facebook user wrote mockingly.

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