SOTY 2015: The real test is on stage for these Student of the Year candidates

SOTY 2015: The real test is on stage for these Student of the Year candidates

It takes more than just talent to win the performing arts award. You also have to brave the spotlight and impress the judges at a live event

Winning the Student of the Year award as a performing artist takes talent, creativity and zeal. The biggest test for this year's 12 shortlisted students was when they were called upon to shine on stage as they performed for the judges on January 21.

So how do candidates stand out from the crowd, and demonstrate their dedication to their art, whether it is in music, acting, dancing or another form?

Look at Madonna: she loves being on stage, and it is where she shines. Last year, she tumbled down several stairs at the Brit Awards, but then stood back up and carried on with her performance.

Candidates don't need such dramatic incidents to win the student award, but the ability to take control of the stage in a performance helps the judges identify the exceptional artists.

Category judge Professor Adrian Walter, who is the director of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, said he was always inspired by artists who were able to make you feel they were performing for you personally.

Walter said judges were looking for someone who immediately conveyed a feeling of being in control of their performance.

"The moment they start to perform ... you become captivated," Walter said. "What I'm describing is an excellent, first-class performer, which is what we're looking for."

Veteran music producer and composer Chiu Tsang-hei has been impressed by the variety of performances he has judged for the awards. "It's extraordinary to see students perform on unusual instruments like the marimba, pipa, guzheng and harp," Chiu said.

"I'm mostly a judge in singing competitions, but surprisingly, I find being a performing arts judge is no different, as every performer is putting their best effort into inspiring their judges."

Young Post deputy editor Karly Cox said the final judging performance was a good platform for Hong Kong students to show what they were interested in, and wanted to share with the world. "There was a great variety of performances today," Cox said after last month's event. "It was very inspiring and reassuring to see how students are finding new and different ways to express themselves through performing arts."

Cox explained how this year's performance differed from last year's. "It was nice to see students stepping out from what you might expect them to do. There were a lot of dances today. And so often you get the pianists, the violinists, the flautists. But to have that range of Asian and Western instruments ... it was a welcome change."

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Au Chin-ching, a candidate from La Salle College, plays the pipa. He said he was inspired by something Chiu told Young Post last year: "Every performer is a star who can confidently step out and give a vigorous performance on stage."

Chin-ching compared the performance for the judges to a musical contest.

"I'm used to stage pressure so I'm well prepared. For a performance, it's normal to feel stressed and make minor mistakes, but I'll carry on with my performance till I finish," he said. He added that it was important to let the judges know your own thoughts. "When the judges asked me why I picked the pipa, which is typically played by girls, I told them music should not be framed by gender."

Marimba player Elise Liu Chi-man from Diocesan Girls' School agrees, saying the number one rule is to be herself.

"You may think that it's important to say what the judges expect to hear, but that doesn't represent you. I'd rather tell them what I truly believe," she said.

Another candidate, Lee Chun-hin from SKH Bishop Mok Sau Tseng Secondary School, was asked why he chose the modern dance.

"I assured the judges that both boys and girls can dance excellently. We dancers let the audience enjoy our performance," he said.

Chun-hin said performers need to stay calm on stage. "The top priority is to enjoy ourselves in every performance, so it is essential to free ourselves from pressure and give a good show."

Guzheng player Tammy Chan Tin-mei from Shaukeiwan Government Secondary School said she tried to relate to this year's theme, "Be inspired".

"I think it would be great to reflect the theme in a creative way, so today I performed West Capriccio, which incorporated a Western performance style into the traditional Chinese instrument. I hope such fusion will inspire the judges."

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on March 12.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
The real test is on stage


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