EdUHK music alumni association holds its first-ever gala concert
Mr Raymond Yuen, middle in bow-tie, conductor of the Alumni Chinese Orchestra, and members of the orchestra.
Mr Victor Tam, fourth from left, conductor of the Alumni Band, and Mr Hanson Tsang, fifth from right, Chairperson of the EdUHK Music Alumni Association, and other members of the percussion section of the band.
EdUHK Music Alumni Association held its first gala concert at Tsuen Wan Town Hall on 10 March 2023. The audience enjoyed a night of wonderful music that doubled as an opportunity for them to chat with old classmates and former teachers, reviving fond memories of learning together, playing music, and singing songs during the days they were still music students at the Department of Cultural and Creative Arts (CCA).
“When the pandemic was subdued slightly by the middle of last year, we began to think about organising a concert so that graduates could get together, as performers or as audience members, and give their friends and family members the chance to enjoy a night of music,” said Mr Hanson Tsang, a music major of CCA’s Bachelor of Education programme (2008-2012), who has been the chairperson of the music alumni association since its establishment in 2017.
The theme for this year’s concert was “To Gather, Together”. The performance was comprised of four sessions: the Alumni Chinese Orchestra, Alumni Symphonic Band, Alumni Orchestra, and Educators’ Singers. The sessions were conducted by Mr Raymond Yuen, a senior lecturer in CCA, Mr Victor Tam, resident conductor of EdUHK Symphonic Band, Mr Kelvin Ngai, resident conductor of EdUHK Orchestra, and Dr Kirk Ma, a CCA alumni, respectively.
The first gala concert was a big success with around 200 alumni performing and around 700 people in the audience. Three music ensembles – Alumni Chinese Orchestra, Alumni Symphonic Band and Alumni Orchestra – were speedily formed to prepare for the performance when the alumni body decided to organise the gala concert. “We also invited Educators’ Singers, which was formed many years ago by alumni from various CCA music programmes, to perform at the event too,” Mr Tsang explained.
Alumni were very supportive. They really tried hard to squeeze in time among their busy schedules to take part in the rehearsals.
“Each performance group planned to rehearse four to six times for the gala concert. Alumni were very supportive. They really tried hard to squeeze in time among their busy schedules to take part in the rehearsals. When there was a shortage of instrument players for instruments like the horn and tuba, alumni invited their spouses, children and students to fill up the gap. In the end, it became a cross-generational event in which music lovers of different generations played music together and got connected,” Mr Tsang said.
The concert was also a platform for EdUHK graduates to share the joys of music with people outside the CCA circle. Patrycia Nowak from Canada was invited by her colleagues, CCA alumni now teaching music at a primary school, to join the concert. It was the first time she had listened to Chinese classical music in a live concert. “Chinese classical music is very different from western classical music. It transported me to a typical Chinese mountain and river scenery seen in a Chinese painting. It feels as if you are in a story in which busy fishermen are buzzing around on the sea and singing on their boats,” she said.
Mr Raymond Yuen leads the Alumni Chinese Orchestra to say thank you to a rapturous audience. The Chinese music aficionado, who joined the then HKIEd, the predecessor of EdUHK, in 1995, is going to retire after serving the University for almost three decades.
Current and former students of Mr Raymond Yuen gift their beloved teacher flowers to send their best wishes and bid him farewell.
The session of Chinese classical music ended with a sentimental note when the current and former students of Mr Raymond Yuen packed the stage with bouquets of flowers to send their best wishes and bid farewell to their beloved teacher. Surrounded by his students from different graduation years and receiving rounds of applause from the audience, Mr Yuen, who is going to retire this year after serving the University for nearly three decades, bowed deeply to thank the audience.
Despite the success of the first gala concert, Mr Tsang is hesitant in making it an annual event. “Organising a concert is never easy. It involves rehearsal venue arrangement, concert logistics, publicity, ticketing, sponsoring and funding issues. It is unlikely that we can organise it on a yearly basis. Instead, we have an initial plan to organise a similar concert every two to five years,” he said. As the University is going to celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, he believes that the alumni association might coordinate different performance groups to participate in the celebratory activities.
Hanson Tsang, far left, poses with Dr Koji Matsunobu, Associate Head (Music) of CCA, second from left, and Professor Leung Bo-wah from CCA, middle, and other alumni.
Mr Tsang, a percussion player himself, also performed in the symphonic band in the gala concert. He was satisfied with the results of the gala concert. “It was a very enjoyable night where different batches of alumni, current and former teachers from CCA mingled together,” he said. Seeing the excitement of the alumni and revelling in the joyful atmosphere of the concert, Mr Tsang wanted to take the chance to thank the now-retired Professor Richard Tsang Yip-fat for throwing out the idea of forming an alumni association several years ago.
The gala concert is a testament to the enduring legacy of our commitment and mission, and to the power of music to transform lives and communities.
Mr Tsang also felt thankful for the support given by Dr Koji Matsunobu during the preparation of the concert. Dr Matsunobu, Associate Head of CCA, was thrilled to see so many graduates coming together to turn the gala concert into a memorable and inspiring event. “Many of these graduates have studied music with us through various certificate, diploma, associate degree, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programmes. The gala concert is a testament to the enduring legacy of our commitment and mission, and to the power of music to transform lives and communities,” he said.
Initially, the association only recruited graduates of a few postgraduate programmes offered by CCA, but it gradually expanded to allow all EdUHK graduates who are interested in playing music together to join. That said, currently, members of the alumni association are predominantly CCA graduates. “We don’t have a formal membership system. And in fact, all CCA graduates are automatically eligible for alumni membership,” Mr Tsang added.
As there is a natural bond among people who love music, the alumni association serves as a bridge between current students and graduates regardless of their age. “In alumni activities, members share the joy of music. Graduates share their job-seeking and work experiences with current students, and alumni help each other in exchanging work information and experiences too. It serves a networking function for all of us,” Mr Tsang said.
The alumni association has a vision to promote community music and music education, and is especially interested in raising the popularity of music among teenagers. “Music is a crucial element of well-being. We hope that the concert not only provided an opportunity for alumni to connect but also gave the audience an opportunity to appreciate a wide variety of musical genres, so they can find their own favourite kinds of music,” Mr Tsang said.
Dr Paulina Wong, second from left, front row, an Assistant Professor of Teaching of CCA, leads all performers and conductors to sing “Shalom to You, My Friends”—the signature ending song for every CCA musical activities. Others in the front row are: Mr Raymond Yuen, a senior lecturer in CCA, far left; Mr Victor Tam, resident conductor of EdUHK Symphonic Band, second from right; Mr Kelvin Ngai, resident conductor of EdUHK Orchestra, far right.
At the closing of the gala concert, all performers, singers and conductors came back onstage to sing the song “Shalom to You, My Friends” under the instruction of Dr Paulina Wong, an Assistant Professor of Teaching of CCA. Ms Ah-Lee Kai Yi-ni was one of the alumni who sang the song among the audience in the hall. A 2010 graduate of Bachelor of Education programme majoring in music, Ah-Lee said the song brought back fond memories of studying at EdUHK.
“This is a song sung at the end of every performance organised by all EdUHK music ensembles. Every student studying music at CCA knows this song. It’s kind of a signature song for us,” she said. Old faces, familiar music and well-sung songs at the gala concert brought Ah-Lee back to a time she was enjoying and exploring the world of music at the University. In fact, she was not the only one transported back to her fond times at CCA; all alumni felt the same way during the concert.
Please click here to read the related story about Dr Kirk Ma.