In life, you are your own conductor. On stage, Adrian Sit is the conductor of an entire orchestra, putting his heart and soul into breathing new life into familiar musical scores.

Aged 27, Adrian has already an extraordinary record of achievement in the world of conducting. Just recently he emerged as the champion in the first International Conductors' Competition Augsburg in Germany. Who could have imagined that this young prodigy was once rejected as unqualified by a school of music?

Just by chatting with Adrian one can sense the aura of an artist, one who has cool, calm, highly personal thoughts. Similar to most children in Hong Kong who have exposure to musical instruments at an early age, Adrian learned how to play them, starting with the piano and the French horn, at the age of seven. We thought he must be exceedingly talented at the piano, and asked him whether he took the 8th grade examination very early. He replied, not without a touch of disdain, “At junior high school. But grades are merely for exams. Music should not be intended for exams.”

In reality, Adrian is not particularly outstanding at playing musical instruments. “I applied for admission to the Departments of Music at HKBU and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, but in vain.” He was then admitted to the bachelor degree programme of Asian and International Studies at the City University of Hong Kong, and met a group of friends who wanted to set up a brass band. They asked him to be the conductor. As he had never learned how to conduct, he took the challenge very seriously, learning the techniques from a master of the art. Since then, he has been irrevocably committed to conducting.

“I enjoy the feeling of freedom when standing on the conductor’s podium. Playing a musical instrument requires paying attention to skills and there are many constraints. But conducting is similar to performing art. One uses body language to communicate with other performing artists and to express my own thoughts.” Fascinated by the art of conducting, Adrian decided to apply once again for admission to the Department of Music at HKBU, and this time he succeeded.

He is grateful for the many opportunities that were available to him at HKBU. He was the first student conductor of the HKBU Percussion Ensemble, and the assistant conductor of both the HKBU Brass Ensemble and the Hong Kong Wind Philharmonia. Becoming a conductor was no longer a dream. On his journey to the conductor’s podium, he is particularly thankful to the HKBU Counselling Centre. “I enjoy getting to know myself through talking with others, but it is very expensive to find counselling services outside the campus. Therefore, during the three years when I was in HKBU, I kept going to the Counselling Centre. It was the fastest way for me to grow up, to have a clear understanding about myself and to examine my own thoughts and feelings. This has been very helpful for my conducting.”

Conducting is not a popular niche pursuit. Adrian has chosen what is definitely a not-so-easy career path, but he is single-minded in his determination to persevere. He will soon take a post-graduate diploma course in conducting at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria, and he hopes to start a career in conducting after completing the one-year study. “A post for assistant conductor in an orchestra can attract three or four hundred applications, but I still hope to become a professional conductor, and I hope to achieve this goal before I turn 30 years old,” he said, leaving no doubt about where his mind is set.