Regional cooperation – and understanding – through music

We’re so busy arguing with each other that we often forget our hidden gems; the Hong Kong-based Asian Youth Orchestra is a shining example of the region coming together

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 3:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 3:29am

We are so negative these days, ever busy pointing out what’s wrong with the city, with the government, with people we disagree with. Is there nothing right going on in Hong Kong?

I know bad news sell better than good. But surely there must be something positive about our city to talk about. Here is one.

More than 100 talented young musicians from around the region are coming together at the Asian Youth Orchestra rehearsal camp this summer at the Academy for Performing Arts. Unlike their political elders, these young people from 12 different countries and territories are making friends and training together, thanks to the AYO.

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“Twelve Asian countries working together. Imagine that!” Richard Pontzious, AYO’s founder and artistic director, said.

You wouldn’t have guessed but our home-grown AYO, so often overlooked by the wider public, is the most recognised and most toured orchestra in Asia. Since its founding in 1987,the orchestra under Pontzious has trained thousands of musicians, and promoted and auditioned some 22,000 young people from around the region.

It’s thanks to people like Pontzious that Hong Kong has become, and will remain, an international city.

For his dedication, the conductor was rightly awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star on July 1. Last year, the orchestra won Japan’s prestigious Nikkei Asia Prize. That was a double first: a first-time award to an orchestra and first time for a Hong Kong group.

On awarding the prize, its Japanese chairman said: “We truly hope conflicts between Asian countries will be eased by understanding each other.”

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While the region’s political leaders are at each other’s throats, and pundits and ideologues are busy arguing the rights and wrongs of territorial disputes over regional waters, it’s heartening to have so many brilliant young people from different parts of Asia playing and training and laughing together. And these youths don’t shout mindless slogans and try to shut other people up. They make music together.

Officials are always trying to promote the latest business, cultural or technology fad and turn Hong Kong into a hub for it.

How about becoming a musical hub for young people? Wait a minute, thanks to groups like the AYO, we already are one.