Orchestrating an inclusive musical world at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

For the first time in its 15 incredible years, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort has joined hands with the city’s largest all-inclusive orchestra, True Colors Symphony, to re-interpret its classic song ‘A Whole New World’.

Not merely a wonderland filled with magic, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is also where diversity and inclusion are celebrated. Over the years, it has collaborated with a number of community leaders and non-profit organizations to create impactful changes to the community.

This time, the resort has made its first-ever collaboration with True Colors Symphony (TCS), the largest inclusive orchestra in Hong Kong, to present a special reinterpretation of the signature song ‘A Whole New World’ from the animated movie Aladdin.

Making music accessible to all

Committed to promoting inclusion, TCS gathers members from different backgrounds, abilities, ages, races and cultures, each with their own unique life story and extraordinary musical potential.

The performing group is formed by 22 TCS members and is conducted by Homer Lee, a veteran musician from Hong Kong Philharmonic. Among them is Lai Lok Yin, a percussionist with autism and learning disabilities.

With no musical instruments at home, Lok Yin is always the first one to arrive at practice to make the most of every opportunity; and at night, he would continue to review music scores and rehearsal videos.

Lok Yin’s mother takes pride in seeing his transformation. “At first, he could not follow the beat, but now he can accurately play some difficult pieces,” she said. “Everyone has witnessed his improvement.”

She had never expected that his son could stay concentrated that well and quickly understand the conductor’s instructions to play the beautiful melody. “The most important thing is that he really enjoys the music from the bottom of his heart.”

In addition to the 22 musicians, local singer Phil Lam is also invited to play the saxophone and take part in the performance, to further illustrate how music can be accessible for all to showcase their talents and build a more inclusive society.

The showcase of renovated Castle of Magical Dreams

Filmed as a music video, the performance was staged in front of the Castle of Magical Dreams at the resort, hoping to spread the messages of how collaboration in diversity can lead to endless possibilities.

Unveiled in November last year, the renovated Castle of Magical Dreams comprises towers and spires of different colors and materials inspired by 13 stories of Disney princesses and Queens. Through its architectural design, guests can embrace the unique characteristics and cultures of every beloved heroine’s story.

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort had shifted its castle from representing one princess to featuring multiple heroines, which highlights the diversity of the unique characters and their own stories. Noted as a shining beacon of possibility and hope for all, the revamped castle perfectly aligns with the theme of the performance and adds extra meaning to the project.

The music video had been premiered on True Colors Symphony’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Acclaimed ‘Community’s Got Talent’ returns in May

In support of the resort’s mission of promoting diversity and inclusion, Michael Moriarty, managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, stresses developing an environment of mutual acceptance and respect.

“We started inviting community choirs to perform in the park five years ago, hoping to spread happiness and Disney magic to local talent by sharing our stage,” he said. More than 10 schools and NGOs have been invited to perform in the park during Christmas.

To date, the resort has conducted 45 ‘Community Choir Sing Along’ performances with about 1,500 participants from diverse backgrounds, including young cancer patients, students with visual disabilities, speech impairments or special educational needs, as well as grassroots students and senior citizens.

Following the preventive measures for COVID-19, the park was closed until earlier this year – after which the project was immediately restarted. From May, community groups will be invited to perform in the park again. “The orchestra will revisit the park later this month for a live performance to share the importance of inclusion to our guests, cast members and the community,” disclosed Moriarty.

This year, the programme of ‘Community’s Got Talent’ has introduced new elements and creativity, with invitations extended from choirs to orchestras, allowing more performers with different abilities to showcase their talent.

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