Israel Lai | composer

Israel Lai | composer

“Israel Lai's thought-provoking ‘BOU6’

a visceral work... unreservedly powerful”


Israel Lai is an award-winning composer, collaborative pianist, and conductor from Hong Kong. His music, rich in harmony, deeply personal, and acclaimed as ‘thought-provoking’, ‘visceral’, and ‘unreservedly powerful’ in The Oxford Student, has been widely performed in Hong Kong and the UK, as well as abroad in Taiwan, Italy and North America....
Full biography "About"

What's on

Latest happenings and exciting music stuff.

Music Salon II with Mivos Quartet

I'm very excited that my string quartet out to tolo will be performed in an online concert ‘Music Salon II’ by the world-renowned Mivos Quartet. I previously worked with Mivos at a 2018 reading session on the piece Playwright, when they visited the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The work out to... Read More "Music Salon II with Mivos Quartet"

Workshopping with the Trio Anima in Cardiff

I'm very excited that I'll be presenting my new work Porthladd at a workshop with Trio Anima, as part of the BFE/RMA Research Students' Conference in Cardiff in January. This work is inspired by harbours, a geographical feature that connects Cardiff and my hometown Hong Kong. Harbours embody contrasting things: they're always... Read More "Workshopping with the Trio Anima in Cardiff"

Joining the Opus 1 scheme with Britten Sinfonia

In a serendipitous turn of events, I'll be joining this year's roster of Britten Sinfonia's Opus 1 scheme. This prestigious and competitive scheme offers developing composers an opportunity to work with world-class musicians from the Britten Sinfonia, and especially to experiment with combinations of sounds through their mixed ensembles. I'm late to... Read More "Joining the Opus 1 scheme with Britten Sinfonia"

Speaking at the Languages in Science Conference, Lancaster University

I have been confirmed as a speaker at the Languages in Science conference at the Lancaster University, 27-28 July 2023, giving a talk related to my compositional research, titled 'Why it matters to make art in neglected languages'. While I'm currently not working in the sciences, the conference explores ways that languages... Read More "Speaking at the Languages in Science Conference, Lancaster University"

Performances / Appearances

Aug 2024
11 August 2024

Music From Home – Sounds of the Homelands

Lakewold Gardens is pleased to present Sounds of the Homelands, its 2024 Music from Home season. Each concert program features the music of a particular …

Lakewold Gardens, 12317 Gravelly Lake Drive Southwest
Lakewood, Washington 98499 United States
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Flock Descending: The Flock’s Debut Concert

Our Manchester-based Hongkonger composer collective is finally in motion! Come see our first concert and check out the cool things we can do when we …

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International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 3 Cambridge St
Manchester, M1 5BY United Kingdom
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Music Salon II with Mivos Quartet

My work, out to tolo (movements 'source' and 'retrospect'), will be performed at a virtual concert by the renowned Mivos Quartet.

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First Impressions: Immersive Experience with PlayMud String Quartet

Exciting collaboration with the up-and-coming PlayMud string quartet in Manchester! We'll be premiering my new piece, First Impressions, specially commissioned to go with the theme …

£12 – £15
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International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 3 Cambridge St
Manchester, M1 5BY United Kingdom
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out to tolo Workshop with Quatuor Danel

The University of Manchester's amazing resident ensemble, Quatuor Danel, will be reading my four-movement string quartet out to tolo. I'm very fortunate that the university …

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The Cosmo Rodewall Concert Hall, Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, Bridgeford Street
Manchester, M13 9PL United Kingdom
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Trio Anima in Cardiff

My piece Porthladd, for flute, viola, and harp, will be workshopped and subsequently performed by Trio Anima as part of the BFE/RMA Research Students' Conference. …

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Cardiff University Concert Hall, 31 Corbett Road
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3EB United Kingdom
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Latest works

“Best of the bunch” — Abingdon Music Festival

First Impressions

2024 For Piano Quintet First Impressions was written as a musical response to early 20th-century French works, featured in PlayMud's concert of the same name. It juxtaposes the ideas behind Impressionism with our personal experience of forming first impressions. Day in and day out, we are constantly forming and reforming our impressions... Read More "First Impressions"


2023 For flute, viola, and harp Porthladd is an ode to two harbours, one in my hometown Hong Kong, and one in Cardiff, where the piece is premiered. It responds to the theme of 'identities', a theme that strikes a chord with me, as someone who's frequently pondering dynamics between identities in... Read More "Porthladd"

out to tolo

2022–2024 For String Quartet out to tolo outlines the flow of Shing Mun River in Shatin, Hong Kong, towards the Tolo Harbour. It portrays the diversity of landscapes and architecture that the river passes by, and the sudden widening towards the sea. cranes among chickens follows the flow of the river and... Read More "out to tolo"

Mind the Gap

2023 For Symphony Orchestra Mind the Gap is a semi-autobiographical work that captures my current identity and state of mind as an immigrant. ‘Please mind the gap’ is a sonic element shared between the soundscapes of my hometown, Hong Kong, and famously of my adopted homeland, the UK. The ‘gap’ in the... Read More "Mind the Gap"

Elegy for an unopened peanut

2023 For tenor horn, piano, and optional off-stage tenor horn Oolong (Mar 2021–Mar 2023) was a gluttonous, quick-footed, well-travelled Syrian hamster with oolong-milk-tea-coloured fur and an oversized-peanut-shaped physique. He was my only friend and roommate during the pandemic, and has been to three cities around England and Scotland. He passed away due... Read More "Elegy for an unopened peanut"

migloje ­– lietuje

2023 For clarinet, percussion, and double bass migloje – lietuje (in the fog – in the rain in Lithuanian) is a sketch from my summer in Vilnius, depicting the two natural phenomena in this 'land of rain' that left an impression on me. The idea came when my friends and I were... Read More "migloje ­– lietuje"