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Department of Engineering

A Musical Engineer? An Engineering Musician?

A Musical Engineer? An Engineering Musician?

Johnson Hok Kiu Leung is a second year Engineering student at Downing College.  He is a talented young pianist, composer and conductor. 

"While many people believe that engineers tend to be sporty rather than artistic, to me, engineering and music are complementary disciplines."

Johnson Hok Kiu Leung

Johnson was granted the Instrumental Award Scholarship at the University and co-founded the Arbury Trio and the Alighieri Quintet, who perform locally.

Johnson writes: ‘I always consider myself a lucky guy to be admitted to the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and granted an Instrumental Award Scholarship.

Since my childhood, I have loved problem-solving games. Engineering helps solve practical real-life problems and has been my ideal course of study. At the same time, everyone who knows me is aware that I am a keen music lover. I have learned the piano since the age of 5 and later the violin, the organ, conducting and composing.

Engineering at Cambridge, with its very high international ranking, is necessarily a demanding subject with endless work and projects, but it is also fun due to the liveliness and close-to-reality nature. Engineering students here are blessed with highly qualified professors and tutors, and self-oriented fellow students. I enjoy studying on my own as much as participating in group projects with classmates sharing the same vision.

While many people believe that engineers tend to be sporty rather than artistic, to me, engineering and music are complementary disciplines. I believe that the generic skills I acquired in learning music have given me a strong aesthetic sense, perseverance, creativity and leadership skills, qualities vital for an outstanding engineer. Like performing in an orchestra, I will be able to work as a team with engineers specialised in different fields. 

There is really no secret trick how to juggle between study and music, but having a genuine interest in what one is doing, prioritising one’s time and strengthening one’s concentration span. One always finds the time to do what pleases one’s yearnings.’

In May 2013, Johnson, together with the renowned Endellion String Quartet, performed Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1 in the West Road Concert Hall at Cambridge. Johnson was invited to perform once again with the Quartet as part of its celebration of its 35th Anniversary at the West Road Concert Hall on 23 April 2014, presenting Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A Major Op.81.

Johnson remarks: "Both concerts were unforgettable. One could tell from the enormous applause that the audience absolutely enjoyed the performances."

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