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Speech by CS at Asian Youth Orchestra Rehearsal Camp opening ceremony (English only) (with photo/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang, at the opening ceremony of the Asian Youth Orchestra Rehearsal Camp at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts today (July 18):

Maestro (Richard) Pontzious, Mr Zhan Yongxin, members of the Orchestra, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. I am delighted to join you all, for the third time, at the Opening of the 21st Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) Rehearsal Camp.

     First of all, let me warmly welcome the 100 talented musicians of the AYO to Hong Kong for this year's Camp. Members of the Orchestra represent the finest young musicians from across Asia.

     As the chairman said earlier, each member has been selected from more than 1,000 candidates through a demanding audition process.  Congratulations to you all. Now you are about to begin a new and wonderful journey in music.

     This journey begins here, with three weeks of intensive rehearsals under the tutelage of some of the finest musicians around the world.

     The Orchestra will then perform in Tianjin and Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. This will be followed by an extensive tour of Asia, the first such tour by the AYO in seven years. There will be no less than 16 concerts during the 23-day tour. It will be a tiring schedule but I am sure it will be fruitful and hopefully fun to all of you.

     Over the years, the annual Tour by the AYO has broken through language and cultural barriers and united our region in a celebration of musical talent and friendship. It also provides a unique and memorable opportunity for everyone involved to promote cultural and social exchange.

     The orchestra has gained a global reputation as Asia's premier pre-professional orchestra. Last year, the AYO was named the 2010 recipient of Japan's Praemium Imperiale Grant for Young Artists. This is Japan's highest recognition for artistic achievement. I am pleased to congratulate the Orchestra again in receiving this prestigious award.

     Hong Kong is extremely proud to have been the home base of the AYO for the past 21 years. I hope this tradition continues for many years to come. The AYO has an important part to play in promoting Hong Kong as an arts hub in Asia.

     We enjoy a vibrant arts environment. Most of our students are exposed to various kinds of musical training during their school years. The high profile of the AYO inspires more students to take their music seriously and encourages them to visit our concert halls to experience the joy of great live performances.

     All this is helping to set the stage for the West Kowloon Cultural District. This is a large-scale strategic investment in culture and the arts for the future of Hong Kong.

     The cultural district will be an integrated arts and cultural district providing top-quality facilities and attracting talent from around the world. When it is completed, I am sure that some of you will have the opportunity to perform at the cultural district as your careers continue to develop and flourish.

     Importantly, the AYO has established a close partnership with the business community in Hong Kong. I would like to thank all the sponsors for your generosity and support, which has been crucial to the Orchestra's continued success.

     Finally, I wish all our promising musicians a fruitful and enjoyable Rehearsal Camp and a wonderful journey in music during the tour and throughout your careers, and to build lifelong friendship among you.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Monday, July 18, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:37


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