Around the world, countries have regular music competitions. From Moscow to Munich, Leipzig to Leeds, promising young musicians get the chance to give their careers a boost by appearing before distinguished juries, big audiences, the media and the entire music community. A similar event for Southeast Asia is long overdue and the Hong Kong Competition for Young Asian Musicians aims to fill the gap. The largest international mu-sic competition in Hong Kong, cash prizes will add up to US$35,000 (HK$272,000). The grand final on September 15, 2001, will be televised worldwide. Chairing the adjudicating panel will be Sir Neville Marriner, founder and conductor of the Academy-of-St-Martin-in-the-Fields. On the best level, the event could well create a good deal of cultural exchange in the region. But how far it will go in putting Hong Kong on the global cultural map remains to be seen. There are a few potential hiccups for organisers in the package. Organisers RTHK, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter reckon on hundreds of musicians entering. In November this year, a roving panel of adjudicators will travel Asian cities holding auditions to select the best applicants for the semi-finals, live radio recitals to be broadcast weekly on RTHK from January to May next year. That doesn't leave an awful lot of time to audition. And, while the event promises an 18-month follow-up professional performing and recording contract for winners, organisers have released no names of orchestras or recording companies with whom these contracts might take place. Still, question marks aside, this is hopefully an event that will become an established feature of the region's art scene. The competition is the idea of Richard Tsang (right), head of Radio 4. Twenty-five semi-finalists will be selected from the qualifying auditions and flown to RTHK for a series of radio reci-tals. In September, a round of final recitals will lead up to the Grand Final Concert in which 4-5 finalists will play with the Hong Kong Philharmonic in front of an international jury. The competition is open to any individual performers of Western repertoire who were either born in Asian countries or are of Asian citizenship. They have to be under 26 (for instrumentalists) or under 32 (for singers) by the time of the final concert.