HONG KONG (AP) In this city of many fakes, from counterfeit Rolexes to bogus Gucci bags, red-faced cultural officials were trying to figure out Friday whether music lovers were duped last month by a fake Russian orchestra.
Thousands of fans paid up to $31 to listen to what was described in programs and advertisements as the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. But after it emerged that the Moscow Philharmonic may have been performing in Europe at the time and that a group of mostly free-lance musicians had taken the stage in Hong Kong, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department demanded an explanation from the promoters.
"We are still investigating the evidence about this," said Mary Ann Mok, senior marketing coordinator with the government department. The department helped promote the concerts but found itself holding emergency meetings Friday to try to find out what had happened.
Mok acknowledged officials were troubled upon hearing that the Moscow Philharmonic was playing in France, Portugal and Spain at the time of the concerts here from Aug. 7 to Aug. 13.
An executive with the Moscow Philharmonic's agents, Artistic Agency Sovinart (Moscow), said Friday that the orchestra performed those European dates under the direction of guest conductor Dmitry Yablonsky.
The Hong Kong concert was performed mainly by free-lance musicians, although up to five staff members of the Moscow Philharmonic may have played with the free-lancers, said Eilina Tikhomirova, Sovinart's general director. Sovinart had nothing to do with the Hong Kong concert, Tikhomirova said.
"There might have been one group playing in Europe and one group playing in Hong Kong," Mok said Friday night. It was too soon to say whether the orchestra assembled for the Hong Kong concerts had lived up to its billing as the Moscow Philharmonic, she said.
She also said it was too soon to say whether concertgoers could expect refunds if officials decide the orchestra was not the genuine philharmonic.
Musicians and orchestra managers for the Moscow Philharmonic were on vacation and could not be reached for comment Friday.