Hong Kong Baptist University Symphony Orchestra to hold Annual Gala Concert featuring AI virtual choir, AI virtual dancers, and an AI media artist

HONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 6 July 2022 - The Hong Kong Baptist University Symphony Orchestra (HKBU Symphony Orchestra) will present an innovative performance showcasing human creativity alongside artificial intelligence at its Annual Gala Concert, to be held on 14 July (Thursday) at 8:00pm in the Hong Kong City Hall.

Poster for the HKBU Symphony Orchestra's Annual Gala Online Concert
Poster for the HKBU Symphony Orchestra's Annual Gala Online Concert

Dubbed "A Lovers' Reunion", the Concert echoes the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland. As the first human-machine collaborative performance of its kind in the world, the Concert will give the audience a brand new symphonic experience driven by the integration of cutting-edge AI technologies.

The AI technologies developed for this performance are provided by researchers from HKBU's Augmented Creativity Lab led by Professor Guo Yike, Vice-President (Research and Development). Professor Guo is the project leader of a research project entitled "Building Platform Technologies for Symbiotic Creativity in Hong Kong" – a HK$52.8 million research fund awarded by the Theme-based Research Scheme (11th round) under the Research Grants Council (RGC) for a period of five years. The team comprises Professor Johnny M Poon, deputy project coordinator; Dr Liu Qifeng, Associate Professor of Practice, Dr Xue Wei, Assistant Professor, and Dr Chen Jie, Assistant Professor of the Department of Computer Science at HKBU.

The HKBU Symphony Orchestra will share the stage with an AI virtual choir to perform a newly arranged choral-orchestral version of the song Pearl of the Orient. It will be the world's first AI choir to perform a choral piece with Chinese lyrics. The AI choir was developed and "trained" by scientists and artists from the Augmented Creativity Lab at HKBU. The team has also trained an AI artist to create a cross-media visual narrative based on the lyrics and music to accompany the choral piece. The audience is invited to share the AI's imagination of Hong Kong as the Pearl of the Orient.

Another highlight of the Concert is a ballet performance featuring AI virtual dancers in Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé, accompanied live by the HKBU Symphony Orchestra. The ideas for the choreography come from the natural world, which provides dance movements inspired by a newly discovered species of box jellyfish in Hong Kong. In collaboration with professional dancers from the Hong Kong Dance Company, the AI-generated dancers have been trained to perform the ballet with movement-data collected by HKBU scientists.

The Concert will also spotlight the artistic prowess of our award-winning student musicians in the performances of Saint-Saëns's Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28; Borne's Fantaisie brillante sur 'Carmen'; and Lauryn Kurniawan's Rasa for string quartet and gamelan.

Professor Guo Yike said: "HKBU is dedicated to building a world-class AI art-tech platform that will drive a new revolution that transforms the creative and cultural industries. It will enable Hong Kong to assume a leading position in art-tech on the global stage. The first human-machine collaborative performance of its kind in the world presented by HKBU at the Gala Concert is an important outcome of the 'Building Platform Technologies for Symbiotic Creativity in Hong Kong' research project. It is also a milestone of AI research revealing the unlimited potential of human-machine symbiotic creativity."

Professor Johnny M Poon, who is also the music director and conductor of the HKBU Symphony Orchestra and the Collegium Musicum Hong Kong, said: "In addition to celebrating HKBU's young musicians, the innovative concert showcases how the University is using technology to push the envelope of human imagination in the arts and cultural sphere.

"By leveraging our established strengths in both the arts and sciences, HKBU is taking a transdisciplinary approach that will advance the development of the arts, culture and creative media in Hong Kong. Our art-tech research also enables musicians and artists to go beyond the traditional forms and interact with the audience in brand new ways."

Hashtag: #HKBU
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