Ng Siu-wai doesn't practise much. It's not because she's lazy or unmotivated - she often just can't find an instrument to play. Ng specialises in the traditional church pipe organ, the kind that can take up the entire balcony of a cathedral. There aren't many options for rehearsal in Hong Kong. Apart from churches, there are only two local facilities with pipe organs: the Academy for Performing Arts and the Cultural Centre. Despite the scarcity of instruments, Ng has proved to be resourceful. The pipe organ is an unusual instrument for a Hongkonger to take up - particularly one who doesn't go to regular Sunday services. Ng started playing when she was studying for a non-musical degree at Oxford, becoming the organist for the Exeter College Chapel Choir. In 2002, she became the first Hong Kong native to advance to the finals at the Calgary International Organ Competition, where she performed with percussion unit Nexus. Last year, she reached the finals of the Gottfried-Silbermann competition in Freiburg, Germany, where she performed on an organ that J.S. Bach reputedly played. However, in Hong Kong she often can't even get in the front door. 'The toughest part is just to find a place to practise,' Ng says. 'In Britian, I never found this a problem. But in Hong Kong, if you're not Christian, it's a big problem. This is something I really don't understand. They'll ask you, 'Are you a member of this church? Are you Christian? Are you baptised?' Almost no local church would lend you their church organ. I considered pretending to be a Christian just to have a church to practise in. 'Finally, I found a place that lets me and my students play. It's a gweilo church. The locals are so restrictive. I don't understand their mentality. It's such a waste. If more people learn the instrument, then there'll be more organists to play their services.' Now, with 10 years' training, Ng is doing her part to educate others about the organ. At her next free lunchtime recital at the Cultural Centre on September 18, she'll give audiences a taste of Bach, Mendelssohn and Leos Janacek. She'll preface the concert with a short introduction explaining the complex instrument. 'If I can help people understand the organ, it makes for a better experience,' Ng says. 'I don't want them going away thinking an organ concert really sucks. Sometimes before recitals I've been asked, 'Where's your instrument? How are you going to bring it in?' I have to tell them, I don't bring it, it's on the wall there.' Ng says there are fewer than 10 performing organists in Hong Kong - which is, perhaps, no surprise, given the difficulty in finding an instrument to practice on. Ng, who works as an investment consultant, says she wants to give the instrument greater exposure. 'I learned piano as a child,' she says. 'I think every organist starts as a pianist - but there was never any passion. I only studied because my parents wanted me to. But in about Year 12, because I was in a Christian school, we had to go to mass at St John's Cathedral. There, a girl showed me the organ, how it works from the stops to the foot pedals, and I thought, 'Wow, this is very cool', and I decided then and there I wanted to learn this instrument. 'The first thing you notice about an organist is how they use their hands and feet at the same time. You really have to be co-ordinated and it's a huge machine with pedals and buttons - and no one has any idea how to use it all. It's very intriguing. Plus, a piano is a piano, but every organ is different. You'll never find two that are exactly the same. 'The other thing you won't find with any other instrument is that, when you play, you're really enveloped and wrapped by the sound and the resonance. You really feel the sound and I think it's thrilling. By comparison, the piano is boring.' Ng Siu-wai's lunchtime organ recital, Sep 18, 1pm, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, free. Tickets on a first come, first served basis.