Speech by CS at Asian Youth Orchestra Summer Festival opening ceremony (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the 26th Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) Summer Festival opening ceremony held at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts this evening (July 18):

James (AYO Board Chairman, Mr James Thompson), Richard (Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor of the AYO, Mr Richard Pontzious), Consul-General Matsuda (Consul-General of Japan in Hong Kong, Mr Kuninori Matsuda), Consul-General Foo (Consul-General of the Republic of Singapore in Hong Kong, Mr Jacky Foo), Arnold (Director, Corporate Affairs of Cathay Pacific Airways, Mr Arnold Cheng), distinguished guests, young musicians from across Asia,

     Good evening. It is my honour to attend the opening ceremony of the Asian Youth Orchestra Summer Festival and Rehearsal Camp for the fourth successive year.

     On this occasion last year, I congratulated AYO on its then 25th anniversary and on the Orchestra being awarded the prestigious Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community. This year, let me take this opportunity to send my heartfelt congratulations to Richard on his receiving the award of Silver Bauhinia Star of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) announced on the first day of this month, the day of the establishment of the HKSAR. The award is a fitting recognition of Richard's dedication to music education and his distinguished and significant contributions to the development of arts and culture in Hong Kong, notably the founding of AYO. May I invite all of you to join me in congratulating Richard on this award.

     Founded in 1990, AYO is committed to and has accomplished the vision of creating an orchestra that can unite young musicians across the region, inspire them to unleash their full potential, and celebrate the excellence of their talent. Since its inaugural performance 26 years ago, the Orchestra has performed in over 360 concerts in Asia, Europe, the United States and Australia to an audience of more than 1 million concertgoers. Under the guidance of its Board of Directors, the total dedication of its Executive Committee and the selfless efforts of its administration staff, AYO has become a leading youth orchestra that comprises the finest young musicians in Asia.

     Every year, the Orchestra runs a three-week rehearsal summer camp in Hong Kong followed by a concert tour to different cities. The cultural exchange programme offers Asia's brightest young musicians exceptional opportunities for study and performance in an international environment. This year, we have with us 110 gifted musicians from different parts of Asia including Mainland China, Taiwan, Macau, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and of course Hong Kong. I am particularly delighted to learn that 18 of them are our local youngsters. After all, Hong Kong has been the home base of the Orchestra over the last 26 years.

     The Orchestra will open its concert tour with performances in Hong Kong and continue on to 10 other cities in Asia. The performances celebrate the rich cultural life of the city. Though the tour will be exhausting, I am sure our young musicians will find it most enjoyable and rewarding. What is most valuable is not only the opportunity to perform, but the friendship that will emerge from such a diverse gathering of young people sharing the same interest and passion.

     Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. To commemorate this important stage of historic significance to Hong Kong, the Government is collaborating with AYO to stage an ambitious world tour in 2017 to major cities in the Mainland, Europe, the United States and Asia, showcasing the vibrancy of our arts scene, recognising the achievements of the younger generation and projecting this Asian friendship to the world.

     Last night, many of us were at the benefit gala premiere of an AYO documentary, "In Search of Perfect Consonance". This documentary, which captures the story, the passion and the vision of AYO, is produced by Ruby Yang, a Hong Kong-born renowned filmmaker whose work in documentary and dramatic films has earned her an Academy Award and numerous other international awards. The documentary is truly an amazing piece, inspiringly profiling how the Orchestra connects the young people in the region, as well as the high spirit and passion of all members. All members of AYO, past and present, should invite their parents to watch this documentary so that they will know much better the uplifting experiences their sons and daughters have had through participation in AYO.

     On this special occasion, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all sponsors and donors in Hong Kong and across Asia for their staunch support for the Orchestra. Your kindness and generosity have helped the Orchestra flourish in the past 26 years, and opened the way for our young musicians to achieve their full potential and make their dreams come true.

     I wish this year's Rehearsal Camp and concert tour a great success and all of you a very pleasant stay in Hong Kong.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Monday, July 18, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:31