July 2005 has been a month dedicated to choral music. Three large events—2005 World Children’s Choir Festival, 3rd China International Children’s Choir Festival and 7th World Symposium on Choral Music—were all held in the same month here in Asia. Amongst them the previous two focus on children’s singing.
2005 World Children’s Choir Festival is reckoned as the ever-international event on choral music in the territory. More than 30 participating choirs share good memories brought by the Festival. Among them 15 overseas choirs from the five continents have gained not only performing experience, but also new insights to the Chinese culture. Other participants of the Festival like the honourable guests; concertgoers and workshop attendants also enjoy much the beauty of angel’s voices.
The beautiful children’s voices have attracted numerous concertgoers. It is absolutely stunning to hear that tickets of the 4 evening concerts—Glorious Sun Group Festival Opening Concert (10/7), Asian Night (11/7), HKFYG Grand Songbridge Gala Concert (12/7) and Festival Closing Concert (13/7)—were all sold out. While all choirs have chances to give performances at the evening concerts or 8 afternoons free concerts, conductors as well as choral music experts are kindly invited to conduct workshops on choral music training, music education and choral conducting skills.
More than 200 music lovers and professional in the field (mostly from China but some from Singapore, Malaysia and Australia) have been attracted to the 18-sessions workshop series and conductors’ forum. It is for sure that they all have gained much knowledge in choral music.
How about the choristers? In fact all overseas choirs were arranged visits to local schools to meet more new friends and to understand more about the Chinese culture. Selected local schools planned very carefully on all aspects regarding the visit. This definitely gives the visiting choir a good impression that people in Hong Kong always welcome visitors. And the visiting choir would feel more like home though they have travelled from their country many miles.
There was another chance for choirs from different part of the world to connect to each other. The first-ever Songbridge program held in Asia, which invited four choirs of extremely high quality, provided choristers a chance to live together and rehearse 4 specially commissioned pieces by renowned composer of the choir’s own country, including Richard Tsang (China), Peter Tiefenbach (Canada), Seppo Pohjola (Finland) and Nea van der Wart. The program is considered as a musical and cultural collaboration and the 4 invited choirs, namely Tapiola Choir (Finland), Saskatoon Children’s Choir (Canada), University of Pretoria Jakaranda Children’s Choir (South Africa) and China Hand-in-hand Children’s Choir (China) arrived Hong Kong few days before the Festival commenced. During such period they practiced intensively the commissioned pieces but of course there were also leisure activities for the little choristers. China Hand-in-hand Children’s Choir is particularly noteworthy because it incorporates singers from Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The choirs finally gave performance at the HKFYG Grand Songbridge Gala Concert where local celebrities and notables attended.
This symbolic event has certainly drawn attention from the media. Mr. Leon Shiu-wai Tong, President of the Hong Kong Treble Choirs’ Association, was invited by RTHK Radio 4 to co-present with Ms Kathy Lam, presenter of RTHK Radio 4, a broadcast series (divided into 5 program) Children’s Choir around the World in July. Topics included introduction to renowned children’s choir in China, Hong Kong, Asia, Scandinavia, Africa, America, etc. As appointed the Festival Official Radio, RTHK Radio 4 indeed record and broadcasted the Songbridge and Closing Concerts while RTHK TV videotaped rehearsals and performance of the Songbridge program. The outstanding Songbridge concert was finally broadcasted on 16/7 at the Pearl Channel. The Organising Committee received unanimous applause in recognition of their efforts made to promote such beautiful children’s singing through such cooperation.
Phoenix TV, collaborated with Asia TV Channel, videotaped and broadcasted the Opening Concert not only locally but also regionally. China Central TV from Beijing also sent a crew to Hong Kong to report the event as well as prepare for future broadcasting of the Opening Concert. Apart from electronics media, news of the festival also appeared in many newspapers. This testifies that a high awareness of the Festival and even children’s singing prevails in the community. China Educational Magazine and China Music Weekly have sent reporters to Hong Kong while other foreign newspaper such as the Daily NNA (Japan) has also reported the Festival. Undoubtedly, the event achieved wide media coverage.
The Festival could never made so successful without prominent supports given by co-presenters, joint presenters and all sponsors. The Organising Committee here again express their immense gratitude to whom has contributed to the Festival.