Performance at HHCKLA in 2017
Courtesy: Chener Yuan
When I was invited by my sponsor from the Lin Yaoji Music Foundation, Mrs. Jessica Hong, to perform at the graduation ceremony held at the HHCKLA Buddhist Chan Shi Wan Primary School in Hong Kong (香港香海正覺蓮社佛教陳世宏學校;), I was excited, but at the same time also felt a bit unease. I was excited because I could take part in celebrating such an important event in these children’s young lives. It reminded me of my own high school graduation ceremony at San Domenico School located in California. It was the most special and unforgettable moment in my life, when all the graduates dressed in white gowns gathering together and cheering the important milestones in our lives. However, I also felt a bit uneasy because of my religious background. I am a Christian and I did not know what to expect by attending an event at a Buddhist school. Additionally, I felt unsure about the pieces I planned to perform, as they were composed by Bach. Bach was a devoted Christian and most his pieces were written for God. Would there be a conflict? That was my initial concern.
However, the moment I arrived at the school on July 14, 2017, my uneasiness started to slip away quickly. It was drizzling that morning, and the moment we got off the car, we were greeted by the headmistress Ms. Tze Hang Fong along with some other faculty members holding umbrellas to keep us from the rain. I was touched by their hospitality and kindness. When I entered the building, a giant Buddha painting on the center of the wall caught my eyes. It was surrounded by candles and flowers. The atmosphere was peaceful and quite. This reminded me of San Domenico school’s campus where chapels with Mother Mary Statues could be seen easily.
While waiting for the ceremony to start, I had a chance to meet with the Supervisor, Rev. Sik Ku Tay and shared with him my concern about being a Christian. I asked him if it was appropriate to play pieces composed by Bach at the event. He told me that the majority of the students attending this school do not have faiths in Buddhism. It was absolutely okay to play something inspiring for the students on their gradation day. In our conversation, I realized that Rev. Sik Ku Tay was born and raised in a Christian family. It was in his teens that he got to know Buddhism and eventually decided to follow his belief and joined the HHCKLA, which is a registered charity organization in Hong Kong. He seems to be very wise, knowing the main principals of both religions and understanding the common values of the two religions.
At 10:30 am, the ceremony began. I was seated in the first row, along with Ms. Hong and other faculty members. Because my performance was the last item on the program, to conclude the ceremony, I sat through the whole process: the award ceremony, reflections, and gift presenting. The unicycle riding show performed by the students was the most splendid part of the ceremony. Skillful and agile, they changed from one pattern to another by holding each other’s hands with precise skills and artistic formation which demonstrated a well collaborated team effort.
Courtesy: Chener Yuan
When my turn came, I introduced myself as well as the pieces I was going to play. The first piece was a slow Largo from the C Major Violin Sonata, BWV 1005. At the beginning, I sensed lots of movements and whispers; the room was stirred up by the previous sport show and the young audience have not yet calmed down from the excitement. After I played few lines, they seemed to get into the peaceful world that Bach created. Because of the two pieces are actually two consecutive sections from the C Major Sonata, I did not give a confident ending gesture before I ended the Largo, the audience got my intention and did not interrupt with the inopportune applause. Followed, I started the rapid Allegro Assai. Going through all the patterns and musical structural points of the piece, the image of the unicycle riding show recurred in my mind. Packed with concise and yet creative designs of the structure along with artistic and beautiful imagination, I realized both music and sports had something in common. After my strong ending, they all gave me very warm applauses, and I also smiled at them to show my gratitude to this unusual opportunity they provided.
Maybe it was fate that I was invited to perform at this school. At first, my personal bias might play a part in being hesitant to accept this invitation. However, once I got to know the school, headmaster and students, I realized actually both religions share some common grounds that is to teach people to be kind and loving to other people regardless their backgrounds. The followers from the two systems are mostly humble and caring. I was touched by the power of the two religions and witnessed how two different religions could produce similar "fruits". That is to make the world better and amiable. This performing opportunity made me open my mind and see the world from a different angle. It was definitely an important lesson I have learned in my life.