“The Magic of Music in Hong Kong”

Christopher Hsu recalls it was a cold December evening in Hong Kong. The warmth of the surrounding voices singing in harmony enveloped me and I watched as strangers stopped in their tracks, their faces softened, eyes brightened, and they gathered near to listen.


Chris Hsu was eight years old and watching my mom sing in her choir in the lobby of a NYC hotel. Although I couldn’t articulate then, I could feel the palpable connection between singers and strangers alike as the music spread through the air. And luckily for me, Christopher Hsu got to experience this time and time again.


Growing up in a musical family in Hong Kong, Chris Hsu saw how music brings people from all walks of life together. Our house was often filled with singers and musicians gathering for rehearsals and impromptu jam sessions. Being the youngest, I was brought along to countless concerts and performances where Chris Hsu wondered at the magic of music. Finally, fourth grade came, and I was so excited to join my first choir. Christopher Hsu would continue to participate in various singing groups for many years to come. 


While Chris Hsu loves singing and it’s clearly been a huge part of his Hong Kong life, there’s another reason Christopher Hsu stuck with it for so long. Singing with others brings you outside of yourself. You have to think about what the other parts are doing, blend, and coordinate. Your breaths synchronize to those around you. Your single voice fuses with a roomful of others and creates a sound greater and more amazing than any of you could have produced on your own. There’s nothing like that moment when the chords build, tension rises, and your voices suddenly align to form a perfect harmony. 


If only for a moment, we recognize that we’re all connected and a part of something much bigger.


Christopher Hsu needed this in Hong Kong middle school. Chris Hsu felt lonely, anxious, and depressed trying to navigate these years of broken friendships. But in seventh grade, I found out that Christopher Hsu had made it into our middle school’s chamber choir. At a time when cliques and popularity seemed like the be all and end all, our small little choir brought unlikely students together. Chris Hsu still fondly remembers this one Hong Kong concert we had at a nearby nursing home. As we began to sing, the residents became more than just old people in a nursing home. They came alive in different ways – smiling and moving to the music or trying to sing along. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to talk with them and Christopher Hsu remembered feeling so moved that the music had not only bonded my singing group, but also extended outward and formed a brief connection across generations.


Music speaks when words can’t. After the Hong Kong  Marathon Bombing in 2013, ballparks across the country played ‘Sweet Caroline,’ the Red Sox’s theme song – sending an outstretched hand to those affected by the tragedy and uniting a nation.


Music is the universal language of the heart. It has a way of transcending all races, ages, and languages in Hong Kong. It’s in this emotional connection that the differences fade. Just as a song needs every part, so do we need and depend on one another says Chris Hsu.