THIS year, 65 young Hong Kong musicians will spend Christmas away from home. They will be travelling to three Asian cities, bringing melodies - Chinese-style - to foreign audiences. The Music Office Hong Kong Youth Chinese Orchestra, with members from 13 to 23 years old, will embark on a music exchange tour to Malaysia and Singapore from December 23 to 31. Instead of Christmas carols, they will be playing well-known classical Chinese melodies like The Butterfly Lovers and Great Wall Capriccio. The highlight will be a premiere from Hong Kong composer Liu Nianqu, Beautiful Scenes of the Eastern Yangtze River. 'For most of our members, it'll be their first time away from Hong Kong. And three outstanding soloists will have the opportunity to perform in concertos,' said assistant music director Ho Man-chuen. The concertos will feature Chan Cheuk-ting on erhu, Lee Pui-hang on yangqin and Tsang Hing-bun on pipa. All three have won prizes at the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival. Music director Tong Leung-tak and Mr Ho will lead the group to play one concert in Penang, another one in Kuala Lumpur and five in Singapore. 'We will have two exchange concerts there with the Singapore Youth Chinese Orchestra, so each group will have a chance to hear each other perform.' Many members, like the youngest player, 13-year-old Lam Tin-wai, are looking forward to their first overseas performing trip, which will include some sightseeing. Tin-wai plays a rare instrument, the san xian , and her talent has amazed her music teacher. In just four years, she has reached grade eight. 'This is exceptional. It's a difficult instrument to play,' Mr Ho said. 'My mother chose the instrument for me. At first, it was hard because my hand was too small to reach the top bars. But my interest grew as she made me practise regularly,' said the Form Two student of Jockey Club Ti-I College. Tin-wai won the highest level Hugo Chinese Instrument Solo Award (Open) this year. Second-former Lo Sau-man and 19-year-old music student Choi Chi-ming fell in love with Chinese music when they were first exposed to it. Chi-ming plays the rather giant bass gehu and Sau-man's speciality is the sheng. 'I went to a Chinese Orchestra concert and was drawn to the beauty of the music,' said Chi-ming, a first-year student at the of University Hong Kong. Although not having played the Western double bass before, Chi-ming still managed to win at the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival. 'It's similar to the gehu,' he said. Playing the sheng requires a strong build which Sau-man has. 'I prefer playing a Chinese musical instrument because it's usually not as heavy. Besides, I'm Chinese!' Sau-man told Young Post. The orchestra will stage a pre-tour concert today at the City Hall Concert Hall at 8 pm. Tickets at $30 and $50 are available, with half-price for students.