In view of the reopening of performing venues on 19 February, the Hong Kong Arts Festival announces changes to in-venue programmes. Please visit this page for details.

Co-presented by the Hong Kong Arts Festival and The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust
“Changing Young Lives, One Note At A Time” Education and Community Outreach Activities

(Hong Kong, 28 August 2017)   The Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) and The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust are proud to co-present, between 2 and 6 November, a series of concert performances, featuring the charismatic Venezuelan maestro Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSOV), spanning Beethoven’s complete symphony cycle.

Celebrating the spirit of El Sistema, a unique community and music education scheme in Venezuela which has nurtured the musicians of SBSOV and reached over 787,000 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across the nation, the concerts are staged alongside an extensive month-long series of education and community outreach activities themed “Changing Young Lives, One Note At A Time”, with the support from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The series includes a forum, an open rehearsal, a series of documentary screenings, schemes of school partnerships and of community visit.

A new dedicated website for the education and outreach activities ( has been launched. Except “Reaching out” School Partnerships Scheme and Community Visit, all activities are free admission and open for public registration starting 18 September, on a first-come-first-served basis.

“Changing Young Lives, One Note At A Time”
Education and Community Outreach Activities Programme details*:
*HKAF reserves the right to change the activity content, time and venue

Forum: “Changing Young Lives, One Note At A Time”

Date: 1 Nov 2017 (Wed)
Time: 9:00am -3:00pm
Venue: The Grand Assembly Hall, 4/F, The Salisbury - YMCA of Hong Kong, 41 Salisbury Road,Tsimshatsui, Kowloon
Language: Conducted in English and Cantonese, with English/Putonghua/Cantonese Simultaneous Interpretation

How can music be a vehicle for social change? How did El Sistema become a model for music education and social advocacy? Keynote speaker Eduardo Méndez, Executive Director of El Sistema, will share his insights, followed by panel discussions with a number of overseas and local music educators and practitioners on the role music education can play in society.

Keynote Speech: “Changing Young Lives, One Note At A Time”
Speaker: Mr Eduardo Méndez, Executive Director of El Sistema (Venezuela) 

Panel Discussion 1: “How Music Affects Young Lives”

Panellists: Mr Jeffery Kimpton, President-Emeritus, Interlochen Center for the Arts
Ms Nancy Loo, Pianist, Broadcaster, Prison Music Programme Volunteer
Ms Katie Wyatt, Executive Director, El Sistema USA
Ms Carol Yew Wing-see, Clinical Psychologist & Expressive Arts Therapist
Moderator: Prof Matthew Tommasini, Visiting Associate Professor, School of Humanities and Social Science, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Panel Discussion 2: “Case Studies: Examples of Inclusion, Engagement and Empowerment”
Panellists: Mr Arnaldo N. Custodio, Band Manager & Conductor, Philippine Youth Symphonic Band
Mr Kenneth Lee, Senior Outreach Manager, Hong Kong Arts Festival
Prof. Wang Yong, Head of Music Department, Shanghai University
Representative of El Sistema Scotland
Moderator: Prof Tseng Sun Man, JP, Veteran Arts Administrator

Lunch Screening
Dudamel: Let the Children Play (2011), Part 1 (Asian Premiere)

Roundtable Discussion: “Local Initiatives: What Works and Why?”

Participants: Representative from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust
Mr Eduardo Méndez, Executive Director of El Sistema, (Venezuela)
Ms Monique Pong, Founder and Music Director, Music Children Foundation
Ms Yao Jue, Artistic Director, Hong Kong String Orchestra
Facilitator: Ms Tisa Ho, Executive Director, Hong Kong Arts Festival
1) Open Rehearsal: “Musical Companions”
Date:4 Nov 2017 (Sat)

Time: 1:15pm-2:45pm
Venue: Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Participating artists: Gustavo Dudamel and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSOV) Participating local orchestras: Diocesan Girls’ School Symphony Orchestra and La Salle College Symphony Orchestra

Gustavo Dudamel and SBSOV musicians will share their musical passion with local student orchestras. The event aims to enhance local talented young musicians’ musicality. An open rehearsal will be conducted in the afternoon on 4th November in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, with two winning teams from the 2017 Hong Kong School Music Festival Symphony Orchestra (Secondary School Senior) participating. Music excerpts from Beethoven Symphony No. 5 or No. 6 will be selected by the two participating orchestras, Diocesan Girl’s School Symphony Orchestra and La Salle College Symphony Orchestra; they will then have the special opportunity of an in-depth coaching session from both SBSOV and Maestro Dudamel.
2) El Sistema Documentary Screenings
The inspiring stories of Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela are among the most fascinating tales in music. Three documentaries will be screened at various locations to invite the public to learn about the beginnings of El Sistema and explore its subsequent impact around the world.

Documentary I
The Promise of Music – Gustavo Dudamel

Director: Enrique Sánchez Lansch
2008 / 90mins, In English and Spanish with Chinese subtitles
The documentary starts in Caracas, Venezuela and travels around the rest of the country on the trail of Gustavo and four young musicians from the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The journey reaches a grand finale in Germany where the orchestra performs a Beethoven Festival concert in Bonn. This film demonstrates how classical music can change not just individuals but also their environment.

Documentary II
Music To Change Life – El Sistema
Director: Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier
2009 / 120mins, In English and Spanish

This moving documentary takes us from Venezuela’s poorest neighbourhood to one of the world’s finest concert halls in Lucerne. The film follows the lives of children who share their everyday hopes and fears, and the dream of a better life through education and music.

Documentary III
Dudamel: Let the Children’s Play (Asian Premiere)
Director: Alberto Arvelo
2011 / 90mins, In English and Spanish with Chinese Subtitles

Gustavo Dudamel, the amazingly gifted Venezuelan conductor and an alumnus of the El Sistema music education system, leads this journey through the stories of some of the young people who are experiencing the joy of music in some of the most diverse and contrasting corners of the world.These children are bringing a simple message to all of us: art is a universal right.

Screening details:
Date and Time:Venue and AddressDocumentary
7 Oct 2017 (Sat)
Rooftop Terrance, Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, 30 Pak Tin St, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon The Promise of Music – Gustavo Dudamel
24 Oct 2017 (Sat)
D1-LP-02 Tin Ka Ping Theatre, The Education University of Hong Kong , 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, New Territories Dudamel: Let the Children Play
28 Oct 2017 (Sat)
Auditorium, Christian Family Service Centre, 3 Tsui Ping Rd, Kwun Tong, Kowloon Dudamel: Let the Children Play
31 Oct 2017 (Tue)
Chiang Chen Studio Theatre, G/F Chung Sze Yuen Building, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom Music to Change Life – El Sistema
4 Nov 2017
AC1, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Administration Building, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui Dudamel: Let the Children Play

3) Reaching Out – School Partnership Scheme & Community Visit

Period: October to early November 2017

“Reaching out” School Partnership Scheme
The School Partnership scheme contains an accompanying series of activities including a guided talk, an open rehearsal conducted by Maestro Dudamel and concerts featuring Beethoven symphonies by Dudamel and SBSOV. It aims to provide a unique classical music journey for students, with the opportunity to experience Beethoven’s thrilling music and the chance to meet world-renowned musicians from the legendary El Sistema music education system. Secondary schools located in remote areas will receive priority access to this scheme.

“Reaching out” Community Visit (By invitation only)
Selected members of SBSOV will go into the community in order to learn more about the current development of music education in Hong Kong. The visits will be conducted in early November, and will take place in three local music education organisations including CCC Kei Wan Primary School (Aldrich Bay) , Wong Tai Sin Catholic Primary School (Hong Kong String Orchestra Jockey Club Power of Music Programme – Light of Hope Music Training Programme) and Music Children Foundation. The visit comprises a coaching session with children and an exchange session with music teachers.

About the Hong Kong Arts Festival (

Launched in 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is a major international arts festival committed to enriching the cultural life of the city. In February and March every year, the Festival presents leading local and international artists in all genres of the performing arts, placing equal importance on great traditions and contemporary creations. The Festival also commissions and produces work in theatre, music, chamber opera and contemporary dance by Hong Kong’s own creative talent and emerging artists, many of which have had successful subsequent runs in Hong Kong and overseas. The Festival also presents over 300 “PLUS” and educational activities that offer diverse arts experiences to the community as well as tertiary, secondary and primary school students.

HKAF is a non-profit organisation. Secured government baseline funding for the Festival in 2018 represents roughly 14% of its HK$125 million budget. Around 32% of the Festival’s income comes from the box office, and another 36% comes from sponsorship and donations from corporations, individuals, and charitable foundations. It is anticipated that the remaining 18% will come from other revenues including the Government’s matching scheme, which matches income generated through private sector sponsorship and donations.

Media Enquiries

For further enquiries, please contact
Education and Community Outreach Activities
Mr. Calvin Lai, Project Manager
Tel:         (852) 2828 3555

Concert Performances
Mr. Louis Cheung, Marketing Manager:
Tel:         (852) 2828 4931