The world premier of Quintessence, the latest short orchestral work by Hong Kong composer Fung Lam, took place last Friday evening. The music by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's composer-in-residence was performed at the 40th Anniversary Gala - Symphonie Fantastique at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, in Tsim Sha Tsui.
"Writing the music was like a spiritual journey for me - exploring different elements of music," Lam told Young Post before the show.
Lam uses the general concept of Buddhism when composing because he likes the idea that everything and everyone are forever changing, and that nobody knows the future. "There is too much unknown in the musical world," he said.
Lam, who grew up in Hong Kong, believes students in the city should be encouraged to be more curious - and study things they are really passionate about. "I always encourage people to constantly explore, so they live a more spontaneous and interesting life," he said.
He is critical of Hong Kong's established culture, which limits children by making them study subjects that will be useful for entering a certain career. The system makes Hong Kong students more narrow-minded, he said.
"It's natural to compare grades and marks in academics," he said. "But it's happening in music, too. We're so focused on getting certain grades that it takes the fun out of learning music."
Lam said the increased pressure on students to do well so they can have successful careers means they do not always take creative subjects as seriously as others subjects.
"This creativity is necessary in our lives," he said. "Youngsters, especially, should be encouraged to do more creative things early on in life because it opens up their minds."
Lam said being creative when we are young helps our minds naturally explore different ways of doing things and solving problems.
The more open our minds are early on, the more creative we can be in future, he said.
Being creative and passionate also helps people to avoid becoming tired and frustrated by their hectic daily routine of study and work in a busy city such as Hong Kong. "I was lucky because my parents pushed me to do music when I was young, unlike some of my schoolmates," he said. "After university, they came to realise the enjoyment and pleasure of music.
Lam, who has spent half his life studying and working in Britain, has no doubts about his favourite musical period. "This period, the living period, of course!" he said. "It's more exciting when you don't always know what's going to happen next.
"When you're exploring, you're going to come across some unknown music you don't like. But if you never explored in the first place, you'll never know if you like it or not."