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'Amazing' Asian Youth Orchestra awarded Nikkei Asia Prize

Founder Richard Pontzious hails recognition of orchestra's 'role in what is now recognised as a new globalism from Asia'.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 May, 2015, 11:33am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 May, 2015, 11:43am

Twenty-five years of nurturing young musicians in the region, and cultural diplomacy, have earned the Asian Youth Orchestra a Nikkei Asia Prize this year. It is the first orchestra, or Hong Kong organisation, to have won one of the prizes in the 20 years they have been awarded.

The Nikkei Asia Prize recognises individuals or groups that have made significant contributions to the betterment of Asia. Winners receive a grant of 3 million yen (HK$190,000).

Presenting the award for outstanding achievements in the “culture and community” category, the chairman of the Nikkei Asia Prizes, Fujio Mitarai, said: “It is worth rewarding this amazing orchestra, which has been performing for 25 years. We truly hope conflicts between Asian countries will be eased by understanding each other.”

Asian Youth Orchestra founder Richard Pontzious, who received the award, said he and his team felt honoured to be acknowledged for their “hard work embracing all of East and Southeast Asia, and playing our role in what is now recognised as a new globalism from Asia”. 

The orchestra's general manager, According Keith Lau Kwok-hung, said the 3 million yen grant that comes with the prize would be added to its endowment fund to provide for the orchestra’s future. 

Founded in 1990 as a regional counterpart to the various European youth orchestras, the orchestra each year accepts around 100 aspiring musicians, aged from the mid-teens to mid-20s, following auditions in their home countries. They undergo intensive training and give a series of concerts.