Youth orchestra members live on love of music - and get sent to the showers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 July, 2009, 12:00am

The image of the starving artist isn't far from what some members of the Asian Youth Orchestra are experiencing these days. Obviously, for the 100-plus youngsters, it's a love of music that's driving them to audition and join Richard Pontzious' respected orchestra, since they receive no pay (although their accommodation, meals, transport and tuition are covered).

One young artist from the mainland even had the indignity of being cheated out of HK$1,000 last week. A 21-year-old violinist from Beijing Jiaotong University was approached on the street by a couple seeking help after last week's typhoon. Being a good-hearted, charitable type, he was duped into lending them the cash, only to be cheated outright.

And apparently rehearsal space is at such a premium at the Academy for Performing Arts that, as the picture shows, members have had to resort to practising and teaching in the dressing-room showers. Fortunately, Pontzious has a sense of humour about it. 'No, we're not playing Handel's Water Music,' he quipped.