Hong Kong Inter-School Choral Festival now accepting video submissions

  • The event will be held online this year so students don’t lose their chance to compete because of the coronavirus
  • Run by the non-profit Hong Kong Virtuoso Chorus, the competition emphasises learning and music appreciation over winning
Sue Ng |

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A student choir performs in the annual Hong Kong Inter-School Choral Festival, which has been held by the Hong Kong Virtuoso Chorus (HKVC) since 2018. Photo: Handout

The fifth Hong Kong Inter-School Choral Festival has announced it will take place online this year, in hopes of giving students a memorable experience despite prolonged in-person class suspensions due to the pandemic.

Started by the non-profit organisation the Hong Kong Virtuoso Chorus (HKVC) in 2018, more than 10,000 students and teachers from more than 250 school choirs have took part in the past four editions.

Kelvin Lau, founder and conductor of HKVC, said that although this year’s festival will be held online for the first time, it has still received an overwhelming amount of entries from more than 80 schools and 60 school choirs.

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“Students only have one childhood and I don’t want to see them lose their opportunity [to join the festival] this year because of Covid,” the musician said.

Having took part in the school choir from a young age, Lau developed an interest in music and later studied abroad at the Berklee College of Music in the US. He has taught in different school choirs since returning to Hong Kong.

It was one of his teaching experiences at a local primary school that inspired him to organise the interschool festival. “I received a job invitation from the school and one of my friends tried convincing me to reject the offer, as the school didn’t have many music resources,” he said.

Kelvin Lau, founder and conductor of The Hong Kong Virtuoso Chorus. Photo: Handout

But he decided to give it a try. As his friend said, the choir was a mess.

“I had never seen a school choir that had 100 members, comprised of students from Primary One to Primary Six – double the size of a normal school choir. Most of the kids were forced to join,” Lau recalled.

He stressed that the basic requirement for a choir is to sing with ‘one heart, one voice’. But since the children were from different grades and abilities, they failed to do so when they sang together.

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“The choir had 100 voices and none hit the right notes. But the school principal still forced the choir to join four to five competitions every year,” Lau said, adding that the frequent competitions quashed students’ love for singing.

In fact, students who took part in the competition were not aiming to win a prize, but were just trying to make the adults happy, Lau noted.

“Their biggest fear was being teased by other choirs.”

But the principals refused to cut back on the number of competitions. Finally, one teacher suggested Lau run a competition on his terms, giving students a comfortable stage to sing freely.

The Hong Kong Inter-School Choral Festival arranged a special performance for the children’s choir at a concert for the premiere of the recent Anita Mui film. Photo: Handout

In 2018, he held the first Inter-School Choral Festival. While he initially thought only seven schools would compete, 20 choirs applied.

Unlike conventional choral singing contests, Lau shifted the focus from winning to learning and improvement. After each team performance, the judges offer instant feedback and advice on stage. Each choir has a second chance to sing again, and the teams have an opportunity to learn from each other.

“In this festival, we are trying to downplay the elements of competition and emphasise the value of education and music appreciation,” Lau said.

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Although the festival will be held online this year, the process will remain the same. Each school will receive a video of other teams’ performances and judges’ feedback.

“I hope that through this festival, more students can enjoy the opportunity to sing,” said Lau.

The submission period for the video runs from March 18 to 31, and the video can be sent to [email protected].

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Submission requirements:

  1. The video must be one long take, with no pause during the shooting

  2. The video should not longer than 10 minutes

  3. If the video contains more than one piece, it must be recorded in the same video

  4. The video should not have any filters, special effects or post-production

  5. The size of the video should not exceed 2GB

For more information, please call 21522820 or check out the website.

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