Hong Kong Philharmonic won orchestra of the year at the prestigious 2019 Gramophone Awards, a first for Asia and a rare bright spot for the financial hub's cultural industry as the city reels from months of protests.
In the only category of the annual awards open to public votes, Hong Kong's orchestra saw off nine other rivals including from cities London and Boston.
The Guardian said it was the first time an Asian orchestra had won the award at the annual event which is often likened to the Oscars for the classical music world.
"The Hong Kong Philharmonic's rise also demonstrates why many believe that the axis of the classical music world is changing. Look east for the future," Gramophone said in an article on its website.
The magazine noted that the orchestra was less lavishly funded than many other top Asian rivals and that its home in the boxy and acoustically unimpressive Hong Kong Cultural Centre "has few fans".
But the orchestra managed to "punch above its weight" with judges singling out their critically acclaimed recording of Wagner's Ring cycle under Dutch-born director Jaap Van Zweden, who is also the director of the New York Philharmonic.
Benedikt Fohr, chief executive of HK Phil, obliquely referenced the ongoing anti-government protests.
The Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying he wanted to "bring the award back to our people. They deserve it. They need it, especially in these difficult times". (AFP)