When you think of harps, your mind might conjure up images of cartoon angels, or of women playing the string instrument in medieval Europe. However, there’s one harp player that’s a little closer to home, and a little younger than you’d expect – a 15-year-old Hongkonger, Katie Lo Sin-yan.
The 2016 Student of the Year (SOTY) Performing Artist finalist from Good Hope School started playing the harp at nine years old because she was fascinated by the sounds the instrument produces.
After a recent performance, Young Post caught up with Katie to learn more about a charity concert she is putting on to benefit the Hong Kong Committee for Unicef.
This Wednesday, Katie will be showing off her harp playing skills for the public in the name of charity in the Lecture Hall of Sheung Wan Civic Centre. Her harp recital, Aspire, will also feature six of her fellow harpist friends, as well as a friend who plays the guzheng – the Chinese zither. Together, the eight musicians will perform solos and ensemble pieces to raise money for those less well off than they are.
Katie plans on performing three solo pieces in Aspire. She will play SG. Dussek’s Sonata in C Minor, Op. 2, Marcel Grandjany’s Fantaisie on a Theme of Haydn, and Manuel de Falla’s Spanish Dance from La Vida Breve.
It won’t all be slow pieces, though. Two of the ensemble pieces the musicians will perform are harpist Elizabeth Hainen’s version of Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, and harpist Willi Maerz’s version of Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer.
Katie, who performed at Hong Kong International Airport earlier this year as part of the “Arts, Culture and Music at the Airport 2017” event, has been to many music-related fundraising events, but never one of her own. Organising her own charity recital is something she’s always wanted to do – but it wasn’t until after she had been a part of the SOTY awards did she turn that dream into a reality.
“SOTY was such a milestone for me, and prompted in me a change of my mindset,” Katie recalled. SOTY places equal emphasis on personal achievements and community service – so why not marry her own musical skills with her desire to help others? That’s when she began planning Aspire.
“Aspire, the name of the concert, is part of a quote that’s been in my life for a very long time – ‘aspire to inspire before you expire’. It’s about inspiring others with our abilities. It might be something small, but we have to do our best with it – not just for ourselves, but for those around us too.”
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The SOTY finalist said that she wanted to organise a charity concert because she wanted to do something to help those less fortunate than her.
“I believe each of us has a gift [for a reason],” Katie said, adding that if a person can achieve their aspirations, they have a duty to give something back to the world.
Katie chose Unicef because she believes that “every child should have equal opportunities to pursue their dreams”. Unicef is an organisation that aims to help children in need in developing countries.
“Raising funds for them will help children study,” she added. “[They will get to] discover their talents, and pursue their dreams.”
Katie has big hopes for what will happen after her concert is over. She would like to continue to organise more fundraising events like this one to give back to the world.
“I believe that, though each of us alone might not be able to make a big change, we can truly make a difference in the world if we work together.”