One cannot speak of Ernest So the pianist without also mentioning his interests in the welfare of the society. Ever since his first performance for the Red Cross at the age of 15, he has been involved with various charitable and philanthropic activities in one way or another.
PerformNow (2005 - 2011)
Founded as a non-profit organization in Hong Kong, PerformNow served two purposes: to organize concerts and to provide performance opportunities to local talents. Concerts were held every two months, each of them an exploration into repertoire hardly treaded by mainstream commercial artists. Through these concerts PerformNow promoted a wide range of music for the Hong Kong audiences, from music of Godowsky to Ropartz, from music of Spain to Brazil; also through these concerts PerformNow sponsored dozens of young, local musicians and catapulted their respective careers.
Due to insufficient funding and local support PerformNow was temporarily suspended in 2011.
The Ernest So Piano Library (2009 - 2012)
The Piano Library was established in Hong Kong in 2009, housing thousands of piano scores, LPs and CDs, all private collection of and funded by Ernest So himself. Opened freely to the public, it was an excellent resource for students and music lovers. It specializes in rare and out-of-print piano scores, 33 rpm LPs and occasionally 45 and 78 rpm vinyl records, in addition to a large collection of CDs. It was the largest of its kind in Hong Kong, and through its service many previously unknown repertoire were brought to light to local artists and audiences.
The Piano Library provided many opportunities for pianists to present Hong Kong premiere of works by Godowsky, Medtner, Guastavino, Stanchinsky, Blancafort, Viñes, Catoire, Bortkiewicz, Kazhlayev, Nin-Culmell, Gnattali, Finnissy, Antheil, transcriptions of Earl Wild, Lucien Garban ... and an endless list of others.
School building projects in rural China (Executive member since 2008)
With a purpose to enliven education in impoverished areas in mainland China, Mr. So assists in school-building and scholarship projects. School building projects include construction and re-building schools in rural villages and providing other facilities for primary and secondary schools. Scholarship projects centers on the huge population of orphans in China, who would otherwise have difficulties having an education. Mr. So also lends his support to music schools and university music departments in China, donating pianos, giving concerts and masterclasses. Mr. So frequently makes frequent trips to these villages and schools, and through the charitable foundation AKH Love & Care Association, about 33 school buildings have been built (as of 2014).
More on AKH Love & Care Association at http://www.akhlovecare.org.hk.