Belle Shiu makes a surprising admission for a young woman whose musical career shows so much promise. The emerging pipa player starts to laugh when the memory comes up but there was a time, she says, “I didn’t really like it as I’m not the kind of person who can sit still for a long time and practice like you have to do with the piano.”
Television, at the time, was more interesting to the young Shiu but that medium, in its way, would soon help chart the course of her future.
“When I was young I liked to watch the dramas, the period dramas, and I thought the women who would play the instruments looked fabulous,” says Shiu.
“That’s how I started with the pipa. I was always impressed by them.”
So, in Primary Three, Shiu started to play and her passion has now led her into the first year of a Masters degree at the Academy for the Performing Arts, as well as an associate membership of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, among other commitments.
“I am very emotional,” Shiu explains. “It comes out in my instrument and this is the best part. I might be weak at some parts of the music but I am good at emotion. At first my mother wasn’t sure about a career in music. She works in sales and my father is retired and there are not many jobs for musicians so she was worried about my future. But I persisted.”
Musicus Inspires! offered Shiu the opportunity to take her talents on to the big stages with performances during its 2014 edition and she says she has relished the opportunity.
“Musicus Inspires! provides a very good platform for students here and for musicians from overseas. It is a chance to get onstage and play with famous musicians,” says Shiu. “My dream is to perform, to get more chance to perform on stage.”
“I want to enjoy this and to show off Chinese music. This is important. Chinese music sometimes gets forgotten but I want to remind people in Hong Kong how wonderful this music is. I hope I can one day inspire young Hong Kong musicians when they hear me play or see me on stage. Playing on stage scary but great. I enjoy the spotlight. Music can be your life, you just have to work hard.”