Life-defining moments don't come around very often. For 21-year-old Wong Ka-lap, one such moment comes this weekend at his Wong Ka-lap Cello Recital - From My Life.
'This is going to be a big moment for me,' said Wong, an up-and-coming local cellist. 'It's my first recital. I'm trying to avoid all the pressure, but I'm well prepared and ready to go.'
Wong made his debut in June as a guest performer at the Hong Kong Cello Festival. He astonished the audience with his fine rendition of Frederic Chopin's Polonaise Brilliant Op 3.
Few suspected he had received relatively limited formal training.
Wong first picked up the cello at age 10. 'It was a little random,' he said. 'My dad sent us to a cello class. My brother chose the violin and I chose the cello. I didn't even know how to hold the bow at the time.'
When he was in Primary Six, Wong began taking lessons from Monica Su, an instructor at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
He went on to study under Artem Konstantinov, the City Chamber Orchestra's principal cellist. Richard Bamping, a top cellist at the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, has also given Wong valuable pointers.
Then disaster struck. 'I got a really serious case of eczema at the start of this year,' Wong said. 'I couldn't play the cello for about three months.' Yet even though he was not physically fit to play, he continued practicing - by fine-tuning his listening skills.
At his upcoming recital, Wong will play with pianist Lai Bo-ling, an HKAPA student. The pair will perform a piece each by composers Sergei Prokofiev, Franz Schubert and David Popper.
Wong thought long and hard about his choices for his recital. 'The three pieces have themes I want to showcase at For My Life,' he said.
'Prokofiev's composition conveys a feeling of my life before my 20s. Schubert's piece is about what I want and what I'm seeking in life. The last one is a mini-encore,' the cellist explained.
Wong's debut performance was made possible by the Hong Kong Cellist Society, a non-profit NGO which seeks to promote public interest in the classical instrument.
This year the organisation is launching a new program called Young Musicians Performance Programme. Its goal is to help budding talents like Wong to launch a career in the competitive world of music by organising concerts and recitals for them. Wong's recital will be the very first in the new initiative.
'I want to thank the HKCS and Young Musicians Programme for organising this concert for me,' the young musician said. 'They have put a lot of effort into it.'
Wong will perform his debut at HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity on December 19 and 20. HKICC is the co-presenter of his concert.
Next year, Wong will be performing more concerts, including two in June with the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra.
For details, visit hkcellistsociety.org.hk