Music in the park

Music in the park

Each year a grassroots arts festival in Discovery Bay showcases talents young and old

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Music lovers flock to the Discovery Bay concert.
Music lovers flock to the Discovery Bay concert.
Photo: Al Urmeneta
In 2005, a group of parents in Discovery Bay watched a dance performance in Siena Park with their children in it. They talked about what a wonderful venue it was to hold a music festival and so an idea was born. The next year brought the first Picnic in the Park with an eight-band line-up.

This Saturday will see the annual event return for the seventh time. The grassroots initiative has since grown into Hong Kong's biggest live music and dance festival.

It will kick off at 11am and features scores of different acts. Two separate stages will host a wide range of performances from classical music to country to hip hop.

More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the free day of fun, music and charity. The event will be raising money for The Hong Chi Association and Hong Kong Student Aid Society. The target is a total of HK$250,000.

Many of the performers have links to Discovery Bay, some have performed at the community festival before, but there will be several new faces.

Since the beginning, teen acts have been popular. Jim Alba-Duignan, a founder of the festival is a member of the local band The Vibes. He and the band work closely with YRock, a community project that encourages local youth to express themselves through music and other performing arts. They help the youngsters with song-writing, performing and other skills.

Last year a talent competition for students called YRock Music Challenge was launched with winners declared in three separate categories: originality, performance and personality.

"Each of the three winners gets stage time at Picnic in the Park so it's a great link between developing young talent and giving them an avenue for showcasing their talents to a bigger audience," says Alba-Duignan.

This year's winner in originality was Ketchup & Mustard, a quintet from HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity. The band was set up only in September. "When we played last time at Discovery Bay, we actually didn't even know it was in the finals," says the band's 16-year-old lead singer, Jonathan Yang Yuo-shiun.

"When they announced that we were winners and would be participating in Picnic in the Park, we were all shocked."


Teen band Ketchup & Mustard will play at the concert. Photo: Warton Li/SCMP

Yet the young band members are relishing the chance to play to a large audience at the festival. Their instructor is Kung Chi-shing, a veteran local musician who organises free monthly outdoor concerts outside the Hong Kong Art Centre in Wan Chai. He believes festivals like Picnic in the Park can nurture young talent.

"I've noticed that there isn't that much interaction between [artistic] youths," he says. "Locals think those competitions and festivals have nothing to do with them. I hope to change this mindset. Participants come from different family, financial and cultural backgrounds. What unites them is a love of music."

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