Arab States
South East Asia
Southern Asia

Making music with a smile: a tour of South East Asia

3 years ago


Penny Milsom, ABRSM's Executive Director: Products and Services, tells the story of her recent visit to South East Asia.


Music, smiles and enthusiasm were the striking features of my first trip for ABRSM to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

I was delighted to travel with Tim Arnold (ABRSM's Executive Director: Global Operations) and his wife Helen (harpist, teacher, and ABRSM examiner) and to have the chance to meet so many students and teachers in the three countries we visited.

Uniting in performance

There were many musical moments in the Hong Kong High Achievers' Concert and Hong Kong and Singapore Diploma Award Ceremonies that moved and stirred us, not only because of the exceptional performances given but also because of the spirit of community we saw.

I cannot forget the sight and the sound of the ABRSM Celebration Orchestra at the Hong Kong High Achievers' Concert, uniting players of all ages from ten upwards, with students and professional musicians sitting alongside each other. Bill Thomson was an inspiring conductor and musical director and the enjoyment of students, players from the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and ABRSM's own examiners was palpable as they united in performance. We truly witnessed a 'Galaxy of Stars'!

Diploma Award Ceremony 2016

Smiles were abundant throughout our trip, but most of all at the Diploma Awards Ceremonies, at which I was honoured to congratulate and shake hands with all the recipients and participate in many photos to capture these special moments. These were occasions both of public celebration and of personal pleasure, with recipients, their families, friends, teachers and other supporters gathering to honour their achievements.

We heard words of praise and encouragement from Tim, whose memorable address invoked Nelson Mandela's call to each of us to follow our talents with confidence.

A shared passion for music education

Enthusiasm for music, playing and teaching and for the contribution ABRSM and its network of musicians makes to inspiring and encouraging people to progress in music was expressed by so many of the people I met. I also saw the deep commitment of our friends and associates in music education in the places we visited, people who are at the very centre of musical life.

These conversations and meetings drew together colleagues from the Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tom Lee Foundation, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and its associated Youth Orchestra and Choir, and numerous teachers, as well as ABRSM representatives from Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Diploma Award Ceremony 2016

Bill Thomson, ABRSM's Hong Kong and Singapore Development Executive, Ryan Lewis, ABRSM's Malaysia National Consultant and their local colleagues hosted us with warmth and generosity. Their energy and attention to detail made every event or meeting we attended a success.

Diploma Award Ceremony 2016

I ended my ten-day trip extremely impressed with the energy and commitment I saw all around me, and enthused about our ongoing partnership with colleagues in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia – a partnership that aims to ensure that ABRSM can continue to provide the best possible support to learners and teachers.

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