Israel Lai | composer


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.

He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Manchester, studying composition with Prof Camden Reeves. Earlier, he was an Esther Yewpick Lee Millennium Scholar reading for an MPhil in Music (Composition) at the University of Oxford, studying with Prof. Martyn Harry and Prof. Robert Saxton, following his graduation from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2018 with a first-class honours Bachelor of Arts in Music, where he studied composition with Prof. Lee Wan-ki Wendy, Dr. Chan Kai-young, and Prof. Chan Wai-kwong Victor. He was previously an exchange student at Lund University, Sweden. He is a member of the Hong Kong Composers’ Guild, the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong, and the American Guild of Organists (Hong Kong Chapter).

Growing up in a Christian environment, Lai has served as pianist, assistant conductor and composer in residence at his church and made chamber arrangements of hymns, such as Christmas Suite (2016), as well as forays into the field of modernised Cantonese Christian music, such as Seven Last Words from the Cross (2018).

Lai is eager to explore ways of combining and incorporating different musical idioms inside his compositions, from classical to modern to ethnic, from homogeneous to constantly changing. He is interested in a variety of instrumentations, especially woodwinds and large ensembles. Fascinated by large-scale classical forms, he has produced a suite of Swedish Rhapsodies (2015-20) for chamber ensembles, a Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (2015-18), and Dusk in Chiufen (2019) for orchestra. He has recently also started exploring vocal genres, having been commissioned to write art songs, song cycles, and a chamber opera Bou6.

Lai’s monumental performances include his graduation concert, where he premiered his art songs, solo pieces, and clarinet concerto, and performed Stenhammar’s piano concerto; and his opera in one act, Bou6, a commentary on current events in Hong Kong. He has also given recitals of lesser-known 20th-century works and multiple performances of his song cycle Zerfernte Gedichte, as well as conducting local ensembles such as the St Giles Orchestra. He has worked with renowned ensembles such as the BBC Singers, the Mivos Quartet, the Kreutzer Quartet, the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, and Psappha, and is a two-time finalist of the New Generation competition, which was broadcast on Hong Kong radio.

On the chamber side, his Rondo (2017) for wind quintet was acclaimed at the premiere, and Introduction and Intermezzo (2017) was broadcast on radio at the finals of New Generation Hong Kong 2017 competition. He gained international exposure with his Theme and Variations (2017) at the highSCORE Festival, Italy, Winter (2017) in Taiwan, and recently, his Playwright (2018), played by the renowned Mivos Quartet. He is always open to new influences and inspirations, and particularly interested in the applications of polytonality.

In his compositions and related research, Israel is keen on melding concepts in composition and musicology. His works have explored how theoretical concepts translate to audience perception, and how music can mirror real life. His research outside of composition focuses on issues surrounding music analysis and identity in Hong Kong. He has given public talks in Polish at two universities on Hong Kong multiculturalism, and is currently beginning further studies on transculturalism in composition.

As a hyperpolyglot and translator, Israel maintains a strong interest in language acquisition and linguistics. He has studied over 10 languages, and currently hosts the Rhapsody in Lingo podcast in Cantonese, alongside a language-related blog and YouTube channel of the same name.


  • MPhil in Music (Composition)
  • BA (Music)
  • LTCL (Piano Performance)
  • LTCL (Organ Performance)
  • AMusTCL (Music Theory)

黎渺揚為香港年輕作曲家,亦從事編曲、伴奏、指揮及翻譯,現為曼徹斯特大學作曲博士生,師承Camden Reeves教授。2018年從香港中文大學音樂系以一級榮譽畢業,先後師隨李允琪教授、陳啟揚博士及陳偉光教授修讀作曲,其後於牛津大學隨Martyn Harry教授及Robert Saxton教授修讀作曲哲學碩士學位,亦曾為瑞典隆德大學交流生。黎氏為香港作曲家聯會、香港作曲家及作詞家協會、美國管風琴家協會香港分會會員。





音樂以外,黎氏對語言學習、語言學甚有興趣,迄今曾涉獵十幾種語言,目前主持《絮言.狂想》語言podcast節目,亦製作Rhapsody in Lingo語言、旅遊、生活blog,同埋同名YouTube頻道