A film by Ruby Yang
2016, 38 minutes
No. 049


Twenty-five years ago, China was at war with Vietnam, the Chinese and the Japanese were at loggerheads, and relations across the Taiwan Strait were fraught with tension. Against this backdrop, the Asian Youth Orchestra was founded with the aim of connecting the region’s young people through music.

Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ruby Yang (The Blood of Yingzhou District, The Warriors of Qiugang), In Search of Perfect Consonance profiles this renowned orchestra for a moving chronicle of recent history and a powerful meditation on music and the higher ideals that it inspires.

As the budding young musicians of the Asian Youth Orchestra come together for an intense summer of rehearsals and concerts, we see them reach for these higher ideals. Selected from thousands of applicants across the region, they must overcome not only national differences but also an Asian musical education that emphasizes individual technical brilliance over ensemble performance. By learning to listen to each other and work together, they reconnect with a passion for music, a passion that not only allows their talents to bloom, but also creates deep bonds between them.

These bonds are at the heart of the Asian Youth Orchestra. It was created by conductor Richard Pontzious, who at the time was touring extensively in Taiwan, Japan and China introducing Chinese audiences emerging from the horrors of the Cultural Revolution to the music of Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev and Copland. The orchestra's founding principle was to promote peace and friendship through the power of music. It’s an aim that has garnered support from some of the world’s top musicians, with the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin leading the way, becoming the orchestra’s co-founder and first conductor.

Today, it’s apt that the piece being prepared by the young orchestra for their three-week concert tour is nothing less than the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th. It’s a piece that eulogizes brotherhood and, as young Taiwanese trombonist Shao hua Wu says, is “full of hope”.