The China Christian Sacred Music School (基督教中國聖樂院, CCSMS), the former school of the Hong Kong Music Institute (HKMI), was founded by Stephen K. Shao (邵光) in 1950, aiming at nurturing talents for sacred music. Shao, who was a dedicated music educator, received his training in Music Theory and Composition at the Qing Mu Guan National Conservatory of Music (青木關國立音樂院) in China. Moved by Shao’s devotion in music education, quite a number of expert musicians from mainland China joined the faculty of this newly founded music school.
Besides running the CCSMS, Shao also set up a training centre for blind musicians in collaboration with the Hong Kong Ophthalmological Society (香港眼科協會) in 1957. Concerts of these blind musicians as well as those organized by the CCSMS were important cultural events in Hong Kong in the 1950s.
Tour performances of the blind musicians led by Shao in Southeast Asia won critical acclaim. During a tour performance in the United States in 1965, a car accident took place and Shao was badly injured and had to stay behind for medical care. The CCSMS, renamed as the Hong Kong Music Institute in 1960, was taken care of by a group of alumni.
In 1968, Helen Woo Teh-chien (胡德蒨), an alumna of the CCSMS who had further studied in Britain, took up the position of the Principal. Under her strong leadership, the HKMI developed steadily. The number of students increased in great numbers. The present two premises of the HKMI, one in Sham Shui Po and one near the Prince Edward station, were bought during the service of Woo. Famous composers Lin Sheng-shih (林聲翕, 1914-1991) and Hwang Yau-tai (黃友棣, 1912-2010) collaborated closely with lyricist Harold H. T. Wei (韋瀚章, 1906-1993) at the HKMI and produced a large number of high-quality compositions. Several important composition and lyrics writing contests were organized by the HKMI during this period.
Woo retired from the HKMI in 1992, and the position of Principal was taken up by Ip Shun-chi (葉純之), a musicologist and composer who had worked at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music (上海音樂學院) for many years. During Ip’s service, many talented musicians from mainland China joined the faculty of HKMI and the Department of Chinese Instruments was established. One-Year and Two-Year Certificate Courses were set up.
Ip passed away in 1997, and the famous soprano Barbara Fei (費明儀) took up the position of the Principal from 1997-2006. During Fei’s service, the two premises of HKMI were renovated to provide a better learning environment for the students.
In 2006, the present Principal Tsui Wan-ching (徐允清), a musicologist who received his training in Hong Kong, the United States and Britain, took up the leadership position. He established the Department of Conducting and set up the Two-Year Piano Pedagogy Certificate Course. He has also recruited many experienced teachers in joining the Institute.
Since its establishment in 1950, the CCSMS and the HKMI has trained a lot of music talents. Notable alumni include composers Wong Yok-yee (黃育義), Lee Tak-kwan (李德君), Hui Cheung-wai (許翔威), Mui Kwong-chiu (梅廣釗), vocalists Susan Poon Chi-ching (潘志清), Lai Kit-ping (賴潔冰), Chan Kam-yee (陳錦儀), pianists Helen Woo Teh-chien (胡德蒨), Lee I-heung (李依向), Kung Shu-on (龔書安), Maggie Chan Ma-ki (陳馬奇), guitarist Stephen Chau Kai-leung (周啟良), etc. A large number of alumni have contributed to the music education of Hong Kong in the capacities of instrumental teachers, vocal teachers and conductors.
The HKMI has made its contribution to cultural exchange by publishing the magazine Music Companion (樂友). This magazine was first published in 1951 and has provided a platform for the dissemination of music knowledge to music lovers as well as the publication of new creative works. It is distributed to the public free of charge.