• July 26, 2023

Artist Profile: Hezekiah Leung

Artist Profile: Hezekiah Leung

Artist Profile: Hezekiah Leung 800 533 Welcome to Kingston Chamber Music Festival | Kingston Chamber Music Festival

As a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Rolston Quartet – the first-prize winner of the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition, and the 2018 recipient and first international ensemble chosen for Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award – Hezekiah Leung is recognized for being an exceptional violist. As a lifelong musician, his path to the viola in particular was forged out of a mix of necessity and curiosity: “I started on the violin and only transitioned to the viola about 10 years ago when I started the Rolston Quartet,” he says. “I remember at the time we couldn’t find a violist for the quartet and also my teacher had encouraged me to play both the violin and viola. So out of curiosity I tried it out and I instantly was so drawn to the sound of the viola that I never went back to the violin.”


When another internationally-acclaimed group – Dover Quartet – was in need of a violist, Leung agreed to step in for a year-long commitment. Named one of the greatest string quartets of the last 100 years by BBC Music Magazine, the Dover Quartet is the Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. They perform more than 100 concerts internationally each year. Thanks to his experience with the Rolston Quartet, Leung is no stranger to the demands of being a professional violist – and the magic. “There is something really special about playing chamber music in different venues with different audiences, making each experience unique and memorable,” Leung says. “The most unexpected and surprising element would be the lifestyle that a string quartet musician has to experience. The traveling, constant hustling, and stress can wear someone down really quickly. However, the love for chamber music is one big element that can keep one going!” 


At the KCMF concerts on Friday, July 28 and Sunday, July 30, Leung will join the rest of the Dover Quartet in performing with violist Che-Hung Chen, oboist Richard Woodhams, and pianist Natalie Zhu. The Friday concert will be all Dover: they’ll perform a selection from Grammy-winning composer Mason Bates, as well as pieces by Béla Bartók and Franz Schubert. The Sunday concert will include a Divertimento for Oboe and String Quartet played with Woodhams, as well as a Dvořák quintet with Chen. “I’m really looking forward to all the concerts,” he says, “but especially the collaborations! It’s always so much fun to collaborate with different artists as every experience is always a unique one.” 


For Leung, the magic of music extends beyond what musicians experience as they play. “Chamber music is really special to me,” he says. “It’s a way of sharing and experiencing. The intimate conversation between the instruments is magic that no other music possesses. It is almost like sharing a private and special story to the audience but having everyone actually listening and experiencing your story!” And for the audience, it doesn’t end at simply enjoying an exceptional performance. “I think music is a great way for people to actually stop what they are doing so that they can listen, feel and experience what is happening in the moment,” Leung adds. “Music is a great way to cultivate conversation, understanding and community.”