SOTY 2021: Performing arts winner finds joy in spreading music to the community

Clara Ki Lu
  • In the last few years, Daria Chung has volunteered with children’s band rehearsals and organised a student-led orchestra for young musicians
  • The teen said music brings her joy and confidence, and she hopes to pursue a career as a soloist, member of an orchestra, or music teacher
Clara Ki Lu |

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Daria Chung On-ching, from Heep Yunn School, is the proud winner of the 2021 Student of the Year performing artist award. Congratulations! Photo: SCMP

Daria Chung On-ching, this year’s Student of the Year performing arts winner, began playing her instrument, the flute, when she was in Primary Two. However, she was not the one who made this choice.

“Actually, I didn’t choose [to play the flute] myself; my parents chose it for me,” she recalled, laughing.

Daria’s parents thought it would be more suitable for her to play the flute, a much smaller instrument compared to the large brass ones, because she was on the smaller side as a child.

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Nevertheless, Daria never felt pressured to continue playing. She pursued a path in music because it brought her joy and confidence.

Throughout her musical journey, there have been many supporters who allowed her to discover her passion and talent, she said. “It’s the support that I gained along the way that made me have the urge to share that joy with people.”

Daria finds joy in spreading her love for music with her community – whether that be joining an orchestra, organising ensembles, or teaching children.

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Two years ago, Daria volunteered at the Music Children Foundation to assist with band rehearsals. And while these children were from underserved communities and did not have the most high-end instruments, it didn’t stop them from enjoying their music, Daria recalled.

And during the pandemic, Daria took another step towards serving her community. Alongside five friends, she created The Hong Kong Youth Philharmonia, a student-led orchestra for those 21 years old or younger.

“The pandemic … [gave] me an opportunity to rethink what I can do with music, not just as a performer.”

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In the future, Daria hopes to pursue a career in music, whether that means being a soloist, playing in orchestras, or teaching underprivileged children.

But she also wants to go into the administrative side. Ever since putting together the Hong Kong Philharmonia, Daria realised the fun and fulfilment of doing behind-the-scenes work for organising musical events.

“I feel it’s so exciting to start up something from zero,” she said.

Now in its 40th year, the Student of the Year competition recognises the achievements of secondary school students, with 11 awards across nine categories. It is organised by the South China Morning Post and sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club.

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