Speech by CS at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Orchestra Concert in celebration of 50th anniversary of Singapore's independence(English only)(photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Orchestra Concert in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Singapore's independence at Hong Kong City Hall tonight (September 30):

Consul-General, Professor (Bernard) Lanskey, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, I welcome the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Orchestra to Hong Kong. These talented young musicians are the stars of this evening and like all of you in the audience, I look forward to their splendid performance at tonight's concert.

     I understand that the orchestra is taking part in its first foreign tour, having performed last night in Macau, and now in Hong Kong. The orchestra's tour is, of course, part of Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence celebrations. I have been privileged to be part of the festivities - having attended the National Day Dinner in Hong Kong and during my official visit to Singapore in July - and fortunate to see and experience, first-hand, the pride and joy that Singaporeans have for their nation and its remarkable achievements. As you all know, we are celebrating our National Day (October 1) tomorrow and we are proud of what our country has achieved in recent decades, and the very successful state visit of President Xi Jinping to the United States last week.

     The world knows full well of the economic miracle of Singapore - its rise as a country and as a regional and global economic powerhouse. Singapore's emergence as a cultural force is equally impressive. And the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, just 12 years old, an excellent tertiary music institution, is certainly part of that creative spirit - a magnet for talented young musicians from Asia and around the world.

     Hong Kong, like Singapore, has heard the music, and has embraced the promise of culture. We have the dedicated Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA), which just marked its 30th Anniversary last year, offering diverse academic programmes from post-secondary Diploma up to Master's Degree levels in various disciplines of the performing arts.

     The students of HKAPA's School of Music are the cultural ambassadors for Hong Kong. Each year, through their various orchestras and ensembles, such as the Academy Symphony Orchestra, the Academy Chinese Orchestra and the Contemporary Music Ensemble, they give around 300 performances, quite a number of which, by the way, take place in overseas venues. I hope they can perform in Singapore in the not so distant future. At the same time, Singaporean artists and performing arts groups conduct masterclasses at the HKAPA from time to time. For example, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, one of Singapore's flagship arts groups, will be collaborating with the HKAPA's School of Music next month.

     Indeed, Hong Kong is home to more than 1,000 arts groups. They put on over 8,000 shows each year, here and around the world.

     Last month, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra toured Finland and Estonia - the same orchestra that participated in "MoonFest" last year at the Esplanade in Singapore. Our Hong Kong Sinfonietta will perform at the Esplanade in February next year.

     It's much the same with theatre, dance, film, art - culture in general - that Hong Kong and Singapore are joined together, finding and embracing meaningful connections through culture. It was just over two months ago that the Hong Kong Fringe Club put together "Spotlight Hong Kong in Singapore". The three-day programme offered everything from big-band jazz and flash mob dancing to award-winning short films and documentaries. The featured opening-day symposium, titled "Creative Cities, Creative Minds," speaks eloquently of our cultural ties.

     Culture can bind Hong Kong and Singapore no less powerfully than trade and investment ties. Tonight, I'm sure we'll be touched by the passion that lights up the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Orchestra.

     May I wish this concert a resounding success and you all a very enjoyable evening.@Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:18