It's so dark in the concert hall that you cannot see your fingers. We are not talking about the kind of darkness you get when you switch off the light in your bedroom, or when you tie a cloth over your eyes.
It's the continuous darkness that the blind experience every day.
In its third year, Concert in the Dark 2012 returns again to present a series of musical events held in complete darkness, featuring a mixed lineup of popular singers such as Anthony Wong Yiu- ming, Joey Yung Cho-yee, Leo Ku Kui- kei, Canadian-born Ellen Loo and C AllStar.
"When the sighted are brought into the unsighted world, those who can see temporarily become blind, while the visually impaired become sighted in the world of darkness," says creative director Yu Yat-yiu, who believes estrangement often originates from misunderstanding or lack of knowledge.
"In fact, it is quite rare for one to completely immerse, especially on a sensual level, into the world of this minority group in our society. This concert is a wonderful experience to educate the public about the world of the unsighted."
From August 24 to 26, eight concerts will be held at the Kowloonbay International Trade & Exhibition Centre. Proceeds from the concerts will go to Dialogue in the Dark Foundation.
While last year's concert took the audience on a journey around the world, Yu, together with award-winning film director Clement Cheng, has decided to lead you on a time travel adventure.
"The theme is revolutions of any kind throughout human history, revisiting significant historical incidents, the birth of a world-changing theory and the invention of a technology or product," Yu says.
"We use music to link all these together and invite the audience to travel in time with us, looking back at the world's past."
As Concert in the Dark is a performance that depends solely on the auditory senses, Yu points out that it is much harder to handle compared to regular concerts. Not only has the sound quality to be exceptional, how they arrange the program - the flow, direction and diversity - is also crucial to the success of the show.
As people easily lose their sense of space in the dark, Yu wanted to compensate by surrounding the audience with music.
In this world of complete darkness, a professional team of visually impaired ushers and backstage helpers will be taking over the stage management during the concert, helping people to find their seats and leading the musicians to their designated places.
Yes, not only the audience will be experiencing a concert in the dark - the performers will also be singing and playing music blind, just like everybody else. It's also a whole new experience for the musicians.
"At the first two concerts, musicians would come back to us and say that they really enjoyed themselves. While they have never imagined they will be able to perform normally without seeing the instruments or the audience, they perform even better than usual," Yu says.
The concert, Yu says, helps them to realize that they actually play music with their ears, not their eyes. The fact that they can't see during the performance gives them a chance to go back to basics, reminding them music is not a visual performance but one that focuses on emotions and auditory senses.
Francis Ngai Wah-sing, founder of Social Ventures HK, one of the organizers, finds this concert a perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the unsighted community in Hong Kong.
"In the past, we have tried holding various activities in the dark such as wine tasting, birthday parties, counseling or team-building workshops," he says. "Concert in the Dark started out as a crazy idea, as it has to be a large-scale event and involves many different units to work as a big team."
He approached local music production company People Mountain People Sea.
Yu, who is part of the company, showed great interest in the project.
Ngai notes that the concert becomes a special memory of the visually impaired who have participated. It even brings those who are from different groups and backgrounds among the unsighted community closer to each other.
"They really enjoyed every last moment of the concert. In fact, they were the stars of the show, not the singers or the musicians. I was so thrilled that they got a bigger applause than the famous Anthony Wong after the show!" he says.