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    YCYW “Seeds of Hope” Concert 2024 Blossoms in Shanghai


    21 Mar, 2024

    17 : 37

    The 2024 Yew Chung Yew Wah Education Network (YCYW) "Seeds of Hope" Concert took place at the Shanghai Opera House, a cultural landmark, on the evening of 16 March.


    More than 350 YCYW teachers and students presented orchestral and choral music, and other performances, captivating an audience of thousands. The performers used music to celebrate love and compassion, and to convey hope and faith in the transformative power of education.

    • A 28-Year Commitment to Supporting Less Fortunate Students

      The YCYW Combined Orchestra and Choir, featuring more than 130 students and teachers, started the concert with their rendition of the theme song "Seeds of Hope".


      The YCYW "Seeds of Hope" initiative dates back to 1996. After a powerful magnitude-7 earthquake struck Lijiang, Yunnan Province in China, teachers and students at YCIS Hong Kong worked together to raise funds through artistic creations and other means for the construction of the "Yew Chung Academic Building". They hoped that the children in the disaster-stricken area could return to school as soon as possible. In response to the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province in 2008, YCIS once again moved quickly to raise funds for the reconstruction of a primary school in the area.


      In 2011, YCYW officially established the Seeds of Hope project as a regular charitable programme to raise funds for schools in impoverished areas and provide education and hope to children.


      To date, the Seeds of Hope has supported the construction of a total of eight schools in China and the Philippines. Dr Betty Chan Po-king, YCYW's Chief Executive Officer & School Supervisor, a staunch advocate of the project, noted in her speech, "These actions reflect the YCYW values we instil in our students. We want to cultivate our students to become exemplary individuals who are compassionate, empathetic, and believe in the power of education to transform lives.



      Reverend Samuel Choy, the former Deputy School Supervisor of Yew Chung Education Foundation (YCEF), who initiated the first "Seeds of Hope" Concert, also attended the concert. Reflecting on the original purpose for the "Seeds of Hope" Concert, Reverend Choy remarked, "This represents an integrated approach to education. The concert is not only an occasion for our outstanding students and teachers to come together annually to perform and interact with each other. It is also a platform to instil values of compassion and empathy through our school's moral education programme, so that our students can have direct contact with students in the schools we support, thus fostering mutual assistance and profound learning experiences."


      The Seeds of Hope initiative is not a patronising charity. Instead, students can show sincere empathy and understanding as they actively contribute to society through tangible actions, and achieve the fundamental purpose of education—character development.


      "The character of our students is what motivates their actions. The pursuit of academic achievement alone is empty and can easily lead to burnout. However, if your motivation stems from care and a desire for change, learning has a higher ideal," said Mr John Liu, YCYW's Head of Pastoral Care. This academic year, he will take YCYW students to an elementary school in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, to engage in care and support initiatives.


      In 2022, YCYW launched the "Seeds of Hope Annual Fund". With the support of this fund, students and teachers can explore innovative learning and social service projects beyond the standard curriculum. For example, through the Lili Time Sign Language Service-Learning Programme and Dementia Friends, students can experience the living conditions of disadvantaged groups such as the hearing-impaired and individuals with cognitive impairment. Students can thus reflect on and fulfil their moral responsibilities in a pluralistic society.

    • Over 350 students and teachers from YCIS Hong Kong, YCIS Shanghai, YCIS Beijing, YCIS Chongqing, YCIS Qingdao, YWIES Beijing Yizhuang, YWIES Guangzhou, YWIES Shanghai Gubei, YWIES Shanghai Lingang, YWIES Zhejiang Tongxiang, and YWIES Yantai performed at the concert

    • Mr John Liu, Head of Pastoral Care at YCYW Education Network

    • The Sound of the Music Touches People's Hearts

      The concert was held for the first time after the pandemic. The performance, coincided with the 30th anniversary of YCIS Shanghai, which is YCYW's first school in the Chinese mainland and the first independent international school approved by the Chinese Government. This recognition underscores YCYW's 92-year commitment to educational excellence.


      The "Seeds of Hope" Concert featured 16 pieces with a diverse array of styles, genres, and ensembles. The works highlighted the talents and skills of students at various stages of musical development.


      Wearing a traditional Chinese dress, Samme, a YCIS Hong Kong Year-9 student, performed "Jasmine Flower", an adaptation of the classic folk song, along with the YCYW Combined Orchestra and Ms Cherry Chen, Musical Director of the concert. Enhanced by Ms Chen's melodious erhu accompaniment, Samme's singing took the audience into the elegant and refreshing world of folk music.


      Samme also participated in the 2019 "Seeds of Hope" Concert at YWIES Zhejiang Tongxiang. Samme remarked backstage: "'Jasmine Flower' is a very meaningful song, and it is also really inspiring. Through our performances, we hope everyone will understand the significance of the 'Seeds of Hope' Concert. We have been able to assist those in need, and in doing so, we have learned a lot as well."


      Violin is part of YCYW's special curriculum, and the students added a special quality to the evening concert through their violin performances. The YCIS violin group, consisting of Year-3 students from YCIS Shanghai, performed "Spring" for the audience. Although the young performers had felt a little disoriented by the dimly lit backstage during rehearsals, once they stepped onto the stage and raised their bows, their faces radiated confidence and composure. Their agile performance conveyed the splendour of spring.


      YCIS and YWIES Shanghai Lingang students from Years 1 to 3 formed the youngest choir of the concert. Their tender voices and innocent performance deeply impressed the audience, earning them the warmest applause of the evening. The choir of older students presented a variety of outstanding choral performances, including extremely difficult a cappella pieces.


      The YCIS Shanghai Percussion Ensemble, led by YCIS Shanghai teacher Mr Kevin Pham, performed "Sweep Dreams", a cool and innovative piece using everyday objects such as brooms and paint buckets as instruments. This creative presentation delighted other performers and the audience. Mr Nick Adgemis, Musical Director of the concert, directed the YCYW Combined Orchestra with an energetic conducting style during their performance of the "William Tell: Overture", bringing the concert to a climax.


      In addition to current YCYW students, alumni artists also supported the concert. 


      Three alumni, who are now pursuing their music dreams at prestigious universities, sent greetings to the audience through video messages. Mr Wu Xiao-zheng, a YCIS Shanghai alumnus, composed a special piece titled "Stardust" for the concert, and conducted the YCYW Combined Orchestra during the debut performance of the piece.


      "As a graduate student at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform at the Shanghai Opera House for my alma mater, YCIS, where I studied for 15 years. For this concert, I composed a piece centred around the themes of love and hope. My aim is to bring the light of music to those in need," Mr Wu explained.

    • Use Music to Build Dreams and Advocate for Benevolence

      Ms Josephine Lo, Head of the Creative Arts Division at YCYW, said that each "Seeds of Hope" Concert provides cherished memories for students, alumni, teachers, staff, and parents across all YCYW schools.


      Ms Huang Jing-jie, a parent whose children studied at YCIS Shanghai, brought a special booklet to the concert—a decade-old brochure for the 2014 "Seeds of Hope" Concert, which was also held in Shanghai. Her child performed in that concert.


      Both of Ms Huang's children attended YCIS Shanghai. Her son, who is currently pursuing a double major in conducting and neuroscience at Stanford University, is one of the three alumni who sent greetings to the concert. As a researcher in the field of parenting, Ms Huang values her children's pursuits and goals beyond academics. In this regard, the YCYW educational philosophy resonates very much with her.


      "When my son entered YCIS, he looked forward to every day and every week so that he could play the violin with his classmates. He didn’t play the violine for the exams; he played for the joy of creating beautiful tunes together with everyone," Ms Huang recalled. "My children grew up with their friends in a relaxed and peaceful environment, where they could enjoy and share music together."


      Ms Lei Jia, a children's art educator and promotor of social aesthetic education, believes that by participating in the creation of art, children can better understand themselves, learn to observe society, and establish connections with society. Through this process, children can gain a sense of responsibility and self-identity, and develop a passion for life.


      This time, Ms Lei invited some autistic children and their parents to the concert. "I hope that the enthusiasm displayed by the children performing on stage will uplift the autistic children and bring them joy. Although they might be different in their behaviour and emotional expression, it is important to integrate them with us because these interactions can help their personal growth and self-discovery, and stimulate their own ways of expression," Ms Lei said.



      Students participating in YCYW Service-Learning Projects set up an exhibition area outside the concert hall to introduce their hands-on activities to the members of the audience. Through the "Dementia Friends" programme, YCIS Shanghai Puxi students regularly visit the Hongqiao Elderly Service Centre in Changning District, Shanghai, to interact with the elderly residents. Mr Guo Kai, Secretary of the Party Working Committee of Hongqiao Subdistrict in Changning District, talked with the students at their booth.


      Mr Guo noted that dementia is an international challenge, and it is very significant for YCIS children to engage with the community and care about this important issue during their formative school years.

    • Her Legacy: Our Story Will Continue

      The concert concluded with a moving singing of "Mother's Legacy", the original musical for YCYW's 90th Anniversary. This musical tells the story of Madam Tsang Chor-hang, YCYW's visionary founder, and her unwavering dedication to education. For more than 90 years, YCYW has remained steadfast in its commitment to charity and education. 


      The "Seeds of Hope" Concert will serve as a spiritual motivation for this enduring commitment, and we have faith that our story will continue for generations to come!


      Tidbits of information "Dr Chan is backstage!"

      After the concert, Dr Betty Chan went backstage to thank the teachers and students who had participated in the performance. Many students were excited to meet Dr Chan in person for the first time.

    We would like to extend our special thanks to the following sponsors.