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The Academy has given me lots of performance experiences. One of these performances that took place in the Concert Hall during the first year of my Diploma studies had a decisive influence on my performance career thereafter. I can even say that, without that performance, I would not have become who I am today.

In the past, I had little interests in academic studies nor did I have many hobbies. However, I spent a lot of time on learning music and hoped to pursue a career in music. Therefore, after I completed my high school studies, I applied for The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. At that time, majoring in Suona was highly sought after. I didn’t do well during my interview and I thought I would have no chance being accepted. Fortunately, the Head of Chinese Instruments, Professor Yu Qiwei, opened a way for me. He said that I did quite well in playing the Cantonese traditional instrument, Houguan, during the interview. He encouraged me to consider Houguan instead since Suona and Houguan were both wind instruments. I was young then. When I heard what Professor Yu said, I actually felt quite disappointed. But in order to start my way in music, I followed his advice to major in Houguan and minor in Suona.

Every year, the Chinese Orchestra of the Academy provides opportunities for students to perform solo in the Concert Hall. Coincidentally, the programme that year included a Houguan solo, A Song of Joy Refreshes My Heart, which would be its premiere in Hong Kong. Many senior students and myself all wanted to be selected to be the performer of this work. Although Professor Yu is not a specialist in woodwind instruments, he is an expert in Cantonese music studies including interpretation skills and timbre etc. Under his personal guidance, my performance skills and comprehension in music had advanced tremendously. Apart from that, I saw many students in the Academy who would came to school on time every morning to queue up for booking venues to practise. Once their practice began, they would stop only for lunch and regular classes held during the day. After these classes, they would resume the practices until midnight. Then on the next morning, they would return to the Academy to practise again. I had once thought that this kind of long-hour practice was just crazy. But when I saw how deeply indulged they were in their music, I decided to learn earnestly from their professional attitude and work hard for this solo performance to practise around the clock too. Finally, my wish was fulfilled and I won my chance to play the solo work in the Concert Hall.

Reflecting back, I was once unwilling to change to study Houguan but I subsequently ignited my spirit to work hard because of it. Little did I know that all these experiences eventually were meant to pave my way to play the Suona. If I had not laid a good foundation in playing woodwind instruments with Houguan and not had my mind tempered, how would I be able to get twice the results with half the effort when I picked up the Suona later and step by step to become the Suona Principal in The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra at the end?

Recently, Professor Yu held a concert in collaboration with The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. In the programme brochure, Professor Yu mentioned my name in his sharing about my solo performance in A Song of Joy Refreshes My Heart. I then realised that it was also a memorable performance to him as well. I sincerely thank Professor Yu for encouraging me to learn Houguan. That made me determined to let the beauty of Houguan shine and to preserve and pass on the heritage of Cantonese music. I wish in future I can produce an album of Houguan music and let more people know about this instrument in order to repay the kindness of Professor Yu.

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