2010 Honorary Doctorate
Lam Kar-sing, originally named Lam Man-shun, was born in Hong Kong on 18 January 1933. His place of origin is Dongguan, Guangdong province. He moved to Guangzhou with his father when the Japanese occupied Hong Kong in 1941. He studied Cantonese Opera with Dengxiao Lanfang from 1944, and made his debut at the age of 11. His talent was soon recognised by the renowned Cantonese Opera actor Sit Kok-sin, who accepted him as a disciple in 1949. Lam was active in learning, and he learnt the skills of northern Chinese stage martial arts, Chinese martial arts, percussion, Cantonese singing method and Peking Opera singing from various masters besides Dengxiao Lanfang and Sit Kok-sin.
Lam actively performed in over 30 Cantonese Opera troupes. In 1962, he played the role of Wenwusheng, the male lead in the Hing Sun Sing Troupe. In 1966, Lam founded Tsung Sun Sing Troupe, which made important contributions to the art form at the time. Over 50 years of his life as an actor, Lam premiered over 45 Cantonese Opera repertoires, including Battling Sound, The Pitiless Sword, Romance and Hatred, Death of a Loyal Warrior, Lin Chong, Wu Song, Jade Disk, Zhou Yu, Romantic Junrui and Clever Hongniang. Most of them have become the classics of Cantonese Opera. Besides, Lam has produced 32 Cantonese Operatic singing albums, and new recordings will be continuously released for followers’ study.
Lam Kar-sing is an outstanding artist on both the Cantonese Opera stage and in Hong Kong cinema. Recommended by Zhang Yue-er, a famous Cantonese Operatic song singer, Lam was first time filmed in An Orphan Raised On Love. From 1947 to 1967, Lam appeared in over 300 motion pictures in various genres, such as traditional theatre, Chinese martial arts films, contemporary and 1910’s films. Lam reached his peak on cinema in early 1960s, during which 3 of the 4 cinema circuits in Hong Kong featured his films concurrently. In 1967, after his last movie Li Shishi, Lam withdrew from the cinema, to fully commit to Cantonese Opera performance and accomplish his dream.
Cantonese Opera experienced its low-tide in 1975. After serious consideration, Lam produced a series of 26 Cantonese Opera performances with Rediffusion Television, despite public criticism. He aimed at promoting Cantonese Opera to household through the television media. The strategy was successful and the setup of double-show system in Cantonese Opera industry made it survive in the metropolitan Hong Kong.
In 1993, Lam retired from the stage of Cantonese Opera after the 33-day performance in Sunbeam Theatre with Tsung Sun Sing Troupe. However, Lam was still enthusiastic over research on Cantonese Opera singing methodology. He successfully coped with health problem and worked hard on enhancing his singing skill. Today, Lam devotes his time to nurturing young artists, to supporting charities, and to working on the preservation of Cantonese Opera.
Soon after his retirement, Lam founded Lam Kar Sing Foundation, which aims at contributing to the community through promotion of Cantonese Opera. In 2000, the Foundation, through coordinating with Education Department, Lions Club of Metropolitan Hong Kong and Hong Kong Schools Music and Speech Association, organized the first Hong Kong Schools Cantonese Operatic Song Promotion Scheme. The scheme held various activities such as Schools Cantonese Operatic Song Singing Competitions, Cantonese operatic singing workshops and seminars, in order to enhance students’ interest in Chinese traditional art and culture, and attract more young audiences of Cantonese operatic singing. Lam is generous in teaching and sharing with the young generation the key elements of performance.
With the generous support from Hong Kong Arts Development Council and individual benefactors, Lam published the book The Art of Lam Kar Sing in 2000. Since 2007, Lam has been concentrating on publishing My Approach to Cantonese Opera Performance series for promotion and preservation of Cantonese Opera. In 2010, Lam was invited to “Talk on Lam Kar-sing’s Art of Cantonese Opera” held at the Grand Theatre of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre to share his performing approach with over 1000 Cantonese Opera practitioners and fans.
Lam is highly praised for his remarkable artistic skills and had a huge number of followers for over decades. On 30 October 2009, Lam was invited by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to sing at Hong Kong Coliseum as a special guest in the Cantonese Operatic Songs Gala Concert by Cantonese Opera Masters from Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China. All tickets were sold out within 1 hour after they were put on sale, which broke the ticket-selling record of activities held by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Lam’s contribution to the world of Cantonese Opera is widely recognized. In 1981, he was awarded a meritorious title by British-Hong Kong Government for his contributions to the art of Chinese Traditional Theatre. In 1999, Lam was conferred the Honorary Fellowship by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in recognition of his status in Cantonese Opera. In 2000, he was awarded Xiqu Life Achievement Award by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In 2005, he was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. In 2006, Lam was invited by the Tourism Commission, the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Hong Kong Film Awards Association to leave his hand imprint on the Avenue of Stars, which is a commendation to the distinguished individuals in the performing arts business. In 2010, Lam was awarded Life Achievement Award by the Chinese Operas Performance Academy Award, and he was the first artist from the Hong Kong Cantonese Opera field being awarded this honour.