Lucky violinist Emily takes a bow
Teen prodigy and US scholarship winner will put on a show for the folks back home, writes William Yeoman
Nedlands violinist Emily Leung, 19, knows she’s a lucky girl. At age 11 she took part in a masterclass by Rudolf Koelman, one of the great Jascha Heifetz’s last students. Eight years later she’s at Indiana University as a Wells Scholar — the first overseas recipient of the scholarship — studying with another former Heifetz pupil, Mauricio Fuks, at the university’s Jacobs School of Music. But it’s not just about the music. “Coming out of a lesson (with Fuks) you feel the world has changed and you notice beauty everywhere,” says Leung, who is performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra next month. “Also, Indiana is such a wonderful learning environment. My teacher and his wife call me their Australian daughter, which stops my mum worrying a little bit. And my fellow students feel like family too. I do feel really lucky.” Leung says the Bruch concerto is special because it’s so romantic and expressive. “It’s also special for me personally because it’s probably the piece that convinced me I had to be a violinist.” She’d been playing violin from the age of seven but hearing the Bruch resulted in her going, at the age of 10, from “reluctant to transfixed”. She knew from that point on she just
had to perform the concerto one day. “Finally I was convinced practising could be a pleasure and not a pain,” she laughs. Another important factor in Leung’s path to becoming an accomplished violinist was meeting violinist Karen Gomyo, who was then in Perth performing with WASO. “Karen has been a guiding light for me and I am so grateful that she has taken me under her wing,” she says. It was Gomyo who introduced Leung to Gomyo’s former teacher, Fuks. “Her kindness and humility are incredible,” acknowledges Leung, who has also taken part in masterclasses by, or had lessons with, Pinchas Zukerman, Alina Ibragimova, Tasmin Little and many others. Leung says the forthcoming concerts, which also feature Beethoven’s Leonore Overture and Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” symphony, will be her first in Perth after studying abroad. “It gives me a chance to play for all of the people back home who have supported me for so long, and have made this wonderful journey possible,” she says.
Emily Leung will perform with the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra at 3pm on Saturday, July 22 (Perth Town Hall) and at 3pm on Sunday, July 23 (Fremantle Town Hall).