Williams Chan from Pui Kiu Middle School was declared the winner of this year's Supernova, the biggest singing contest for secondary students in Hong Kong. Having battled past more than 500 competitors in the previous rounds, 15 acts took to the stage for the grand final at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium on August 1.
The event kicked off with a dynamic performance of Katy Perry's Roar by all of the finalists. In an exciting climax, Williams was crowned champion after two tough rounds of competition. First, he belted out his emotion-packed version of Recovery by James Arthur, followed by a cheeky, spirited adaptation of Troublemaker by Olly Murs.
Despite his confident attitude onstage, Williams admitted that his second song required him to step out of his shy personality.
"The important thing was to practise, get to know the song and have fun. On stage, I just acted as myself, instead of trying to be something that I'm not. I want to be my true self to everyone around me," said Williams.
"Rather than treating this as a success, I will treasure this experience for the rest of my life. This is my third Supernova. I've put in a lot of hard work over the past three years and learned from my mistakes. Otherwise, this wouldn't have been possible.
The first runner-up was Toby Wong from Wah Yan College, who sang two solos from musicals of different eras.
He shared an interesting story about his second piece Til I Hear You Sing. He said he had first performed the song in Primary Six, but was upset by the audience's reaction. Now a Form Four student, Toby decided to choose the same song again, and this time he received huge cheers from the crowd.
Ana Maria Da Roza from Sacred Heart Canossian College, charmed the audience with her confidence and stunning voice. The second runner-up performed a sassy song followed by a nostalgic ballad.
After the first round of the grand final, the five highest-scoring contestants were invited to perform a second song.
Male duo Justin Chan and Gordon Poon, and Young Post's Junior Reporter of the Year 2013, Ruby Leung, were among the top five finalists.
Justin and Gordon were voted the Most Popular Act of the night, having tugged at the audience's heartstrings with their love songs.
Four student emcees, alongside radio DJ Colin Ng, acted as hosts for the evening. Guest performers Ken Hung, Kolor, Supper Moment and a group of previous Supernova winners all took to the stage to entertain the crowd.
Supernova, which began in 2009, gives secondary school students a chance to showcase their musical talents. It is organised by a student committee, and this year they were led by Leanne Lam, another Young Post junior reporter. They were responsible for things like poster designs, ticketing and technical support, and had to make sure the contest was run smoothly.
"Supernova is a big event held in the summer when everyone can gather in one place and see what secondary students can do. We are very proud that by organising Supernova, we can provide students with a platform to display their talent," said Leanne.
"Supernova 2014 contained more diverse genres. This year's grand final included a mainstream singer, an opera singer and contestants who played instruments as they sang. We hope this will encourage a wider variety of singers to join in the future.
"Besides basking in the spotlight, the competition helps students to make more friends." It is clear that the 15 finalists all share the same passion for music. In the days leading up to the competition, they went busking together and shared their music with the public. Williams said: "When I'm going through a lot in my personal life, the spotlight and the music allow me to express myself, to let my audience feel how I'm feeling through the song."
He said he wants to encourage other teenagers to be proud of who they are. "Being a gay teenager, I want to encourage others to be brave and not to hide themselves," he said. "Nowadays, our society tells us that we have to be skinny to be considered beautiful, but I choose to ignore the people who tell me that I'm too fat and should be on a diet."
The lyrics of a song written by Williams reflects his opinion: "Who cares if you're fat or skinny. After all, we're all bones underneath."