Hong Kong students hit the right note after winning China chorus festival

New Territories school celebrates after beating more than 230 other teams from 44 nations in the biannual competition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 9:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 11:53am

A local school choir has walked away winners from the 13th China International Chorus Festival, which ended last week.

The 57-member mixed chorus from Sheng Kung Hui Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School in the New Territories beat more than 230 other choirs from 44 countries to come first at the biannual event, held at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

“I was absolutely stunned by the discipline these young students displayed and they did it with poise and consistency,” Li Peizhi, chairman of China Chorus Association and one of the 25 members of the international jury, said.

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“That was very impressive.”

An award of $50,000 yuan was granted to the local school. Lee Siu-mei, head of music at Lam Woo since 1997, was also named one of the five best conductors at the festival.

Such accolades bring a lifelong satisfaction
Lee Siu-mei, Lam Woo head of music

“We practised for 12 days in a row before heading north and the works we selected were in our repertoire for the annual school festival,” Lee said.

She added that despite the school having an unassuming name and coming from a lower-income neighbourhood than its fellow Hong Kong counterparts, the audience and the judges immediately took notice the moment the chorus hit its first note.

“It’s interesting that we are always runners-up to branded schools at local festivals and only become recognised when we sing on the international stage where we are judged not by our name, but by our musical standard,” she said.

This latest accolade follows victories at the World Choir Games in Shaoxing both in 2010 and again in Latvia in 2014 - all under the tutelage of Lee.

“Such accolades bring a lifelong satisfaction, much more than that of Pokemon scores, and the pupils know it,” she said.

Wong Wang-chun, the choir’s pianist, said his passion for playing music required discipline and commitment to his studies.

“To make up the time spent on rehearsals, I work harder on my studies and my parents can see that,” the Form 5 pupil said.

Principal Chan Ka-yun said the long hours Lee and her pupils put into practice carried a special meaning nowadays.

“The latest award shows pupils in Hong Kong have talent, and opportunities are only for those who prepare well.”

The China International Chorus Festival has been running since 1992.