Doctors' orchestra plays for children

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 March, 2013, 3:16pm

Zenith Wu works with his hands. He's an aspiring surgeon, and recently he's been trying to be as nimble on the valves of his trumpet as he is with a scalpel.

Wu, 23, is the youngest member of the Hong Kong Medical Association Orchestra, which is playing for charity for children on Sunday. Although it promises to be great fun, he wants to play well, too.

"To me, music is like a second career," he says.

The Animal Story Music Festival consists of two Easter concerts, one narrated in Cantonese and the other in English. Established in 1989, the orchestra has about 70 members - mostly doctors but also some from other professions. Over the years, the concert has raised more than HK$5 million.

"I appreciate the fact that the members in the orchestra are all very charity-minded," says Dr Alvin Chan Yee-shing, vice-president of the Hong Kong Medical Association.

Half of the tickets are being distributed free to socially deprived or disabled children, and the event is as much a social mixer as it is a concert.

I don't think we're there to teach the children. We're just going to have a fun day. 

"The purpose is to introduce both groups to each other so that the disabled children get a chance to mix with those without special needs and vice versa," says Dr Charles Wong Yat-cheung, a paediatrician who plays the double bass. All children, except for those in wheelchairs, are invited to sit on the floor to listen to stories, children's songs and child-friendly classical pieces. One of the pieces will be played by a 17-year-old blind pianist from Ebenezer School.

The Australian International School was chosen as the venue because of its facilities for the disabled and the way it makes the children feel more at home.

"Most of the time these children can't keep quiet," Wong says. "In a classical concert, they always create disturbances. As a result, they may not feel that welcome. But we welcome them. We try to accommodate them and to be inclusive."

Wu says the concerts carry one simple purpose: "I don't think we're there to teach the children. We're just going to have a fun day. These disabled children may have communication problems and seldom talk to others or listen to music. This time we'll probably invite them to shout, to cheer and move around."

So, what's different about an orchestra made up of doctors? "We cherish the rehearsal time even more," says Wu.

Animal Story Music Festival; Australian International School, Sunday; 2.45 pm (Cantonese), 4:45pm (English). Tickets and inquiries: 8106 7330 or Each child ticket includes free admission for one accompanying adult.