Mother's Day musical treat for unsung heroines

Violinist organises free concert in tribute to more than 1,300 single mums

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 May, 2015, 6:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 May, 2015, 8:04am

More than 1,300 single mothers from underprivileged families will taste their first concert hall experience in a celebration of motherhood through a mixed programme including Western classics and pop music.

Entitled Mother's Day Love Concert, the two-hour performance of strings and piano at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui on Tuesday is designed for the disadvantaged. It is particularly close to the heart of the mastermind behind the charity event.

"With the passing of my father-in-law last week, I lost two loved ones within 11 months," says violinist Yao Jue, daughter-in-law of Lu Ping , the former Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director who died last Sunday at the age of 87.

"My mum was very ill on Mother's Day last year and could only listen to my performance through the radio in the hospital. She passed away a month later.

"I see these difficult experiences as ways in which heaven makes me a stronger person."

Her mother's passing, she says, made her truly appreciative of the greatness of maternal love.

Video: Jonathan Wong and Yao Jue's 'Mother's Day Love Concert' for underprivileged families

Yao - who was born in Shanghai, trained in New York and, since 1997, has been based in Hong Kong - is no stranger to performing for a good cause. But what turned her attention to needy mothers was an encounter in a contest two years ago.

"I was a jury member selecting the final 20 happy families among new immigrants to Hong Kong, and was deeply moved by those single mothers who juggled several jobs to make ends meet, and still did voluntary work in the little spare time they had to help fellow new immigrants," the mother-of-two recalls.

"Instead of accepting Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, many insisted on working to feed themselves. This quiet multitude deserves our salute."

It occurred to Yao that a live show at a concert hall must be a rarity for them, so she came up with the idea of treating these unsung heroines by mobilising the orchestra she founded two years ago and seeking sponsors to cover the HK$300,000 cost.

Through charities and NGOs, Yao and her team distributed 1,380 tickets to single mothers to enjoy a specially designed programme conveying a message of hope and love.

"Through music, I hope to tell them they are not alone or forgotten. I want to inspire them with something new so that they will see things differently," she says, referring to a programme that will range from Tchaikovsky to Michael Jackson.

Yao's co-star in the charitable endeavour, Cornell-trained Canto-pop singer Jonathan Wong Chee-hynn, calls the event more of a "gathering" than a concert.

Wong, 28, has lined up his own songs and with Yao will perform Jackson's hit Smooth Criminal, arranged for two violins.

Referring to one of his songs, Thousand Colours, he says: "We want to turn the concert hall into an open space and that's the best way to celebrate their special day, by involving them and opening them to more colours in life."

"We hope our music will trigger a spark in the hearts of each of the special audience and glow in them, giving them something different to share with their children," Yao says.