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Documentary celebrating peace and friendship through music by Oscar-winning director premieres in Hong Kong

More than 300 guests, including Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong SAR Government, attended the premiere of the latest film by Academy Award-winning director Ruby Yang in Hong Kong on 17 July.  

Speaking at the event, Lam described the film as ‘a very powerful short documentary with a very simple message—that is peace and friendship through music’.


Director Ruby Yang and the AYO faculty

The Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) Benefit Gala Premiere of ‘In Search of Perfect Consonance’ was held at the AMC cinema in Pacific Place, Admiralty, presented by the AYO and JMSC, and supported by the Lee Hysan Foundation.

The film profiles the AYO, which was founded 25 years ago with the aim of connecting young people in the Asian region through music. Orchestra members are selected based on auditions held in countries across Asia and anyone between the age of 17 and 27 is able to apply.

Every summer, members spend three weeks in Hong Kong being trained by an international faculty of top musicians before embarking on a concert tour of different cities in Asia. In 2016, 110 young musicians from Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have joined the orchestra and will go on to perform in Hong Kong and ten other cities across the region.

‘In Search of Perfect Consonance’ explores the AYO’s history and mission, the founders’ ideals, and the personal stories of those involved in the orchestra. More widely, it also celebrates the idea of peace and friendship through music.

‘This is a wonderful film to us because we are often seen as a musical organisation but we take a step beyond that,’ said Richard Pontzious, AYO founder, artistic director and conductor.

‘While music is the vehicle we use to bring people together, the point is we bring people together, from eleven/twelve Asian countries and territories, all coming together in peace to celebrate what they do, their excellence and the excellence of Asian musicians, and of course the friendships that they build,’ he said.


The JMSC team at the premiere

Over 400 hours of film were shot for the documentary, covering the interaction of orchestra members at rehearsals and on tour. The film was edited for nine months at the JMSC and then sound mixing and colour corrections were made in San Francisco, US.

Ruby Yang thanked guests for their attendance and the AYO for their support in making the documentary: ‘This film wouldn’t have been made without the collaboration of Richard and the faculty, with five cameras daily filming them and all moments during the three weeks,’ she said. ‘This film is really a celebration of friendship through music.’

The film will be released in the United States on 19 August, and the Lee Hysan Foundation is supporting another 20 preview screenings in Hong Kong over the coming months.

The AYO was set up in 1987 and has given more than 350 performances in some of the world’s top venues, reaching over a million concertgoers and becoming what the San Francisco Chronicle describes as the ‘finest among youth orchestras around the world’.

Ruby Yang is an award-winning Chinese American filmmaker and Honorary Professor at the JMSC. She directed The Blood of Yingzhou District, which won the Oscar for best documentary short in 2007, and The Warriors of Qiugang, which received an Academy nomination in the same category in 2011. She now heads the Hong Kong Documentary Initiative at the University of Hong Kong, which aims to nurture the next generation of documentary filmmakers in the region.

Click here for more photos from the premiere.

(Feature image, from left: Professor Yuen Ying Chan, JMSC Director; Cecilia Ho, Lee Hysan Foundation; Jim Thompson, Board Chairman of AYO; Ruby Yang, Director; Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary for Administration of the HKSAR Government; Richard Pontzious, founder and artistic director of the AYO; Belinda Hung, founder of the Hung Hing Ying and Leung Hau Ling Charitable Foundation, and the benefactor of the Hung Leung Hau Ling Distinguished Fellow in Humanities Scheme)