In 2008, Austin Leung was awarded a half scholarship to study at the University of Hong Kong, majoring in Medical Engineering. In his second year of study, he occasionally joined the University choir, which served as an enlightenment and the start of a musical journey for him. Deeply inspired, he started learning and practicing music for around six hours a day. Two years later, he acquired his first ABRSM Grade 8 certificates in both violin and music theory. Leung’s composition is distinctive for its integration of contrasting musical materials in the same work, ranging from tonal, expressive melodies to brutal contemporary ‘noise’. Such a compositional approach echoes Leung’s philosophical belief that the world is united yet also diverse. If the most contradictory musical materials can combine perfectly in the same piece, then humans, regardless of background or culture, should be able to coexist in the same world without discrimination, prejudice and war. Such a message is especially important in this era and Leung believes that music is one of the most effective platforms to deliver this message.
Philharmonia Composers' Academy Vol 2 will be released on January 18. Hear a preview here.
Can you share with us your top five contemporary composers and/or pieces?
George Crumb: Makrokosmos IV
George Crumb: Vox Balaenae
Qigang Chen: Iris Dévoilée
Unsuk Chin: Rocana
Yoshimatsu: Kamui-Chikap Symphony
Where and when was your first composition performed? What was it?
My first composition was performed in 2014 at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. It was a 10-minute piece for sinfonietta conducted by myself and performed by my friends.
Any stories of unusual jobs you had prior to entering the music world?
I worked as a technical assistant at a company that sells ceramic glass (thanks to my engineering degree!), which is usually used on induction cookers.
You're stuck in a lift with three people of your choice (dead or alive)! Who are they and what would be the topic of discussion while you wait to get rescued?
Maybe just one... I would like to ask Jesus what he thinks about the recent world (although he had probably foreseen this long ago…) Is it meant to be?
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on a commission by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta
If you could collaborate with anyone across any genre or art form who would it be and why?
There isn’t anyone specific that I would like to work with, but recently I have been imagining collaborating with art forms like drama and animation etc.
While music is usually said to be relatively abstract, I see a lot of potential in collaborating with art forms that have the capability of delivering some concrete messages.