In recent years, the choirs over the world have been very supportive in international choral activities. This happens to Hong Kong choirs as well. Both school choirs and local choirs have been very active in various competitions and performances. Some even choose to travel abroad to join overseas choral festival at their own costs. Many of them have achieved outstanding accomplishment. All these reflect the sophistication and potentials of Hong Kong choral music.
However, it may not be possible for every choir to travel abroad to participate in overseas choral events. The huge travel expense is sometimes a hurdle too high. Also, many choir members cannot afford the time as they need to fulfil their academic or career schedule in their busy life. It is not easy to organize an international choral activity for choral directors and it is indeed rare to witness and appreciate a professional choral competition in Hong Kong. Bearing the mission of supporting and encouraging choral music, Hong Kong Treble Choirs’ Association presented the 1st Hong Kong International Youth & Children’s Choir Festival (HKIYCCF) this summer. It targeted in reaching an international standard. The Association believes in a fair judgment procedure which not only enables it to become an international competition, but also attracts overseas participants with to come for cultural exchanges. This enhances the development of choral music and consolidates Hong Kong’s status as being the city of international events.
The 2006 HKIYCCF has been held from 10th to 12th July 2006. There were seven choir competitions and two solo singing competitions. In choir competitions, categories were divided according to ages, voices and style. For solo singing, it was divided into two categories by age. The most popular category is A2 Children Choir (age 16 and under), which attracted 13 participating choirs. There were 40 choirs in total participating in the whole Festival. They come from the five continents and the four regions of the Greater China, including Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. It was especially a valuable gathering. It is not easy to communicate with a group of international choirs to join the Festival. Apart from language barrier, visa application of different almost become another obstacle. In particular, Choeur Monseigneur Luc Gillon from Democratic Republic of the Congo was risking the permit of entering Hong Kong because of visa problem. Fortunately, they could eventually attend the Opening Ceremony of the Festival with the assistance of the Immigration Department. All of its members were very joyful in joining such an international choral activity on time.
To ensure fairness and objectiveness, the rules of other international competitions have been taken as reference for making the HKIYCCF’s. We invited 20 renowned musicians, vocalists and conductors to be the adjudicators of the Festival. They were Philip Brunelle (USA), Saeko Hasegawa(Japan), Nelson Kwei(Singapore), Jing Ling-Tam(USA), Dapeng Meng (China), Werner Pfaff (Germany), Nancy Telfer(Canada), Jacques Vanherle(France), Jonathan Velasco(Philippines), Jean-Claude Wilkens(Belgium), Jimmy Chan(Hong Kong), Wing-Wah Chan(Hong Kong), Victor Wai-Kwong Chan(Hong Kong), Wai-Man Chiang(Hong Kong), Barbara Fei(Hong Kong), Katusha Tsui-Fraser(Hong Kong), Ella Kiang(Hong Kong), King-Man Lo(Hong Kong), Michael Ryan(Hong Kong) and Ching-Chi Tam(Hong Kong).
For each choir, the two extreme scores out of seven given by the adjudicators were truncated during the calculation of marks. And the ranking was not the only result of the competitions. Participants could acquire the Gold, Silver or Bronze Medal once their performances reach a particular standard. Therefore, participants can always gain some knowledge of their own standard, even competing with very strong rivals. There is no perfect in arts, so the presenter aimed at encouraging participants to achieve higher standard through mutual learning. This goal was undoubtedly achieved in this year’s Festival.
During the three days of the Festival, there were rich programmes within a tight schedule throughout the mornings and afternoons. In the evening, the best concert halls in town were reserved for the three concerts and “Glorious Sun Group - Finalists’ Night and Closing Ceremony”. The three concerts have brought excellent enjoyment to audiences with their own distinctive characters. “The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Group - Festival Grand Opening Concert” on 10th July was a gathering of the most outstanding choirs, who had performed many memorable songs. The first performer was The Hong Kong Melody Makers which is set up by HKFYG. They delivered us the world premiere of Morning Struggles in which the music and lyrics are composed by Dennis Wu and Skylie Wu respectively. It enjoyed the high appreciation from every guest in the room. On 11th July, “The Traditional Choral Night” was held in Hong Kong Cultural Centre whereas “A Date with Phoenix - World in One Voice” was held in Hong Kong City Hall. The former comprised the performance of eight choirs. They performed folksongs and traditional songs. The latter presented the performance of choirs selected from the five continents and the Greater China. We are glad that the concert was broadcasted through Phoenix Satellite TV to the whole world. The most valuable thing was that a number of youngsters of different nationalities joint together in harmony and performed despite their distinctive cultural background. They have also sung the theme song In One Accord together under the conduction of Mr. Leon Shiu-wai Tong. This recalled how commendable and valuable that peace and unity music can bring.The“Glorious Sun Group - Finalists’ Night and Closing Ceremony” on 12th July has brought the whole festival into the climax. Hoping to acquire the Grand Prizes, all finalists tried their very best giving their most remarkable performance. Eventually, New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir was honoured “The Best Choir” and received a cash prize of US $10,000. The audience applauded heavily for their outstanding performance whereas the choir sang the song once again for thanking everyone’s support. The Festival has finally come to an end under such an exciting atmosphere. The great occasion was broadcast by Radio 4, Radio Television Hong Kong. Please listen to it again by visiting the website of RTHK.
The successful HKIYCCF is brought by the generous supports of many people. Bringing such invaluable chance to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful voices of choirs, we believed that all difficulties in organizing the event were outweighed. Hong Kong Treble Choirs’ Association is sincerely looking forward to your participation in the 2nd HKIYCCF in 2008.