Reaching out to poor children with music

Reaching out to poor children with music

A 20-year-old hopes to broaden the scope of musical education to the have-nots through a youth choir

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Members of Kelvin Lau''s Hong Kong Virtuoso Chorus seek to change young lives through the power of music.
Members of Kelvin Lau''s Hong Kong Virtuoso Chorus seek to change young lives through the power of music.
Photo: HKVC
In Hong Kong, music education is still largely the domain of children from wealthy families. For those in low-income households, music lessons are often unaffordable.

"It's a luxury to learn music. A piano lesson can cost from HK$500 to HK$1,000 an hour depending on the teacher's experience," notes Kelvin Lau Ho-hin, 20, a fresh graduate of St Paul's College.

He should know. Kelvin has sung in choirs since the age of six and even conducted his school's senior choir. He has learned music from well-known professionals.

"It's not because I've done anything to deserve [music education]; it's just because I was born into a [well-off] family," he says. "It's not fair that some children are not given the chance to hear music or to learn to play music and sing."

So in January he founded the Hong Kong Virtuoso Chorus (HKVC), a non-profit choir with young musicians ranging in age from 16 to 23. Supported by Lion Club Central, the group now has 50 members, all of whom have extensive music training and stage experience.

"I want to gather a group of young talent that will not just perform on stage," Kelvin says. "Rather, we will use our music to create opportunities for all children to experience music."

He has contacted some local schools for underprivileged children and offered to help organise school choirs and music lessons for students.

He has several avid supporters. Horace Tung Ho-yiu, 16, is one of them.

The teen started singing in a children's choir when he was just five. He also plays the piano. "Music has helped me to become more expressive," says the Form Four student at King's College. "Whether I am happy or sad, I can express my feelings through [music]. Singing in a choir is good training, especially for boys who are less expressive."

Another stalwart of the group is Cindy Pong Wing-tung, 19. Like Horace, she, too, has been a member of the Hong Kong Children's Choir since early childhood.

"If I couldn't sing in school, I'd feel something was missing," she insists.

"Learning music helps us become passionate. It also develops our confidence when we perform. I feel that music has made my life complete."

Both Horace and Cindy praised Kelvin for launching HKVC.

"I am inspired by Kelvin's passion to use the choir to do something good for children," Cindy says.

This Sunday HKVC will stage a concert at the Cultural Centre to raise funds for its outreach programmes. Kelvin hopes to raise at least HK$300,000 for the group's charity programmes over the next two years. He believes the choir will provide great opportunities for children.

"My dream is that we can touch the lives of poor children through the positive energy of music," he stresses.

Young Post has six tickets for the upcoming concert. To get one, e-mail us at yp@scmp.com before Friday. For more details, visit hkvchorus.com

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