At just 20 years old, Nedlands violinist Emily Leung has already had opportunities other young musicians can only dream of.
Aged 11, the former St Hilda’s school dux took part in a masterclass by Rudolf Koelman, one of the great Jascha Heifetz’s last students.
Nine years later Emily is attending Indiana University Bloomington in the US 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 there are still chores to be done. And things to miss about home.
“You have to balance those day-to-day things, like paying rent, grocery shopping and doing your laundry, with studying and practising,” Emily says on the line from Bloomington, where she’s been based for the past three years.
“I also miss my family and everything I’ve grown up with. Like the nice weather and the great fruit and vegetables — which you really miss in the middle of an American winter.”
She played violin from age seven but hearing the famous Bruch Violin Concerto 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.
Last year, Emily won the Tingleman Award at the inaugural Melbourne International Violin Competition.
Emily will be in Perth this year to perform with the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra.
She expects to graduate from Indiana University in 2020. What does the future hold?
“My scholarship will support me for another semester abroad,” she says. “I’d like to use that to study in Germany or Austria. They’re really the place to be: music is so much in their blood.”
She doesn’t dismiss basing herself in Australia in the future.
“I’d love to be based there eventually,” she says.
“I’m very attached to home. Whenever I come back, it’s so lovely to hear all those Australian accents again just before I get on the plane.”
The West Australian has partnered with Northern Star Resources to reveal 50 of the State’s most talented young people over the course of a month. Why? Because we believe the future is bright and these rising stars can move mountains if given the right support.