It’s been nearly three years since The Harmonics started adding a musical element to Hong Kong’s diversity scene. An LGBTI and Friends choir, the group grew out of Out in HK, a Hong Kong-based health and fitness group, when members discussed the possibility of a separate get together to share an interest in music. Following on from a successful first public event back in 2016, The Harmonics are back with a new live show this Saturday and new guests. We speak to co-founder Alex See to learn more.
How did the first concert go?
It went well! We brought a lot of different international choirs like the Pink Singers and Barberfellas from London, who were fantastic.
Did those more established choirs have anything to teach you?
Sure. Things like how to budget, how to choose songs, how to encourage people to get engaged. And also that there’s more to this than just singing. That’s about 10 percent of what we do. The other 90 is rehearsals and being a support network to people who may not have a lot of gay friends or who are still questioning their sexuality or having their own battle.
So what will be new this time?
We’re trying many more difficult songs and a capella, and we have a small band with a drummer and a bassist. The production values will be a lot better. For guests, we’ve invited the Unsung Heroes choir, a choir composed of Filipino helpers. They have a song talking about how they wish they could kiss their kids goodnight when they’re working abroad and it brings tears to everyone’s eyes. And then there’s AndrewGyne, who’s a gender-neutral person whose performance is very spiritual and was on X Factor in Australia.
What do you think the guests bring to the show?
The Unsung Heroes choir is about giving a voice to a minority that’s a somewhat underprivileged slash abused group that’s working really hard for and contributing a lot to Hong Kong. The LGBT community can relate to that. We’re all constructive, contributing citizens but sometimes we feel almost second-class or like we have to live in the dark. And for AndrewGyne, it’s really empowering seeing this gender-fluid individual being on stage. That’s what we hope to achieve with our music.
Why title the performance Unleash?
We want our theme to be freedom, liberation and empowerment. We’re aiming to say, unleash your potential and live your life to the fullest.
How do you feel about the situation for LGBTI individuals in Hong Kong right now?
2017 was definitely a fantastic year. Hong Kong won the right to host the Gay Games in 2022. There was the QT spousal visa victory and Angus Leung’s spousal benefits victory [a legal decision overturned by the Court of Appeal last week]. But I still see a lot of people who have to live in the dark because of a lack of laws to protect workers from discrimination. I just had a conversation today with a member and he’s not willing to show his face during our performance. He asked us not to include a song in which he sings solo. We want to understand why and things like that. It’s quite hard. The situation in Hong Kong is good but we’re still far behind somewhere like Taiwan. The positive thing is young people. Those under 25, I think 95 percent or 97 percent of them support things like marriage equality. It gives us hope that maybe in 20 or 30 years when this group of people are grown up, and when I’m like 70 [laughs], then equality will come.