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Winner of the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community, recognising AYO’s outstanding achievements contributing to the region’s sustainable development and to the creation of a better future for Asia.

Presenting the award to AYO founder Richard Pontzious, Mr. Fujio Mitarai, Chairman of Nikkei Asia Prizes, said: “It is worth rewarding this amazing orchestra which has been performing for 25 years. We truly hope conflicts between Asian countries will be eased by understanding each other.” This is the first time in the 20-year history of the Prize that the award has been presented to an orchestra, and the first time a Nikkei Prize has been awarded to a Hong Kong organization.



2010 Grant for Young Artists
Asian Youth Orchestra
Selected by International Advisor Yasuhiro Nakasone (Japan)

Praemium Imperiale artists are recognized and awarded for their achievements, for the impact they have had internationally on the arts, and for their role in enriching the global community. The Grant for Young Artists is given to a group or institution that encourages the involvement of young people in the arts.



1 July 2016

An Honour to be Honoured!

Congratulations to AYO founder Richard Pontzious, named today to receive Hong Kong’s Silver Bauhinia Star for his work in creating and guiding the Asian Youth Orchestra from its founding 26 years ago to the international status it now enjoys.

The Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS) is the second rank in the Order of the Bauhinia Star in Hong Kong, awarded to people who have taken a leading role in public affairs or voluntary work over a long period.


Indeed Mr. Pontzious has dedicated his life to opening doors and creating opportunities for young musicians across Asia for some 49 years, since first touching down in Taipei in 1967, where he taught music at Taipei American School, and on to Tokyo in 1968 where he created an instrumental music program that continues to thrive today, to Shanghai in 1983 and ’84, where he introduced a new world of discipline and orchestra repertoire to students at the the Conservatory of Music, a fantastic school just coming alive after the terror of the Cultural Revolution, and to Hong Kong where he has lived and worked since 1987, traveling throughout the region, creating a world of opportunities and meeting and speaking out on behalf of the 22,000-plus musicians who have auditioned to be members of the Asian Youth Orchestra.


Mr. Pontzious has held the Bronze Bauhinia Star since 2000. We at AYO are proud to be guided by this arts legend, whose work at AYO has resulted in the Orchestra receiving Japan’s Praemium Imperiale for Young Artists in 2010, and the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and the Arts in 2015. Hurrah for AYO, Hurrah for Mr. P.


The Order of the Bauhinia Star was created in 1997 to replace the British honours system (such as Order of the British Empire) after the transfer of sovereignty to People's Republic of China and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

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