VC Talks: an interview with Abigail Leong, GLORY Int'l Music Competition prize winner


  • 1st Prize, GLORY Int'l Romantic Music Competition 2018
  • 2nd Prize, GLORY Int'l Baroque Music Competition 2018
  • 2nd Prize, GLORY Int'l Classical Music Competition 2018
  • 2nd Prize, GLORY Int'l Modern & Contemporary Classical Music Competition 2018

Abigail Leong currently studies cello with Jonathan Koh at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College division. Abigail made her debut at Carnegie Hall with the Saint­-Saens Cello Concerto at age ten. Abigail won first place at MTNA state, VOCE state, Pacific Musical Society and Burlingame Music Club. She won two first place awards from the United States International Music Competition and was selected as a Fremont Symphony Orchestra Young Recitalist. She was also selected as a soloist at the Junior Bach Festival. Abigail says one of her goals is to share music with everyone. She enjoys dancing tap and reading in her spare time.

What year were you born?

Do you come from a musical family?
My older sister also plays the cello. We both also played piano.

What was your earliest musical experience?
I started classical ballet lessons when I was 2 years old.

Why did you choose to play the cello?
I wanted to learn piano but my hands were too small, so choose cello because there were smaller sizes for smaller people like me.

Who are your favorite composers and why?
Brahms because his music is both beautiful and challenging.
Beethoven because his music is stormy and loud.
And they both wrote some great repertoire for cello!

Who are your musical idols?
Cellist Mstislav Rostropovich

What is a perfect performer?
One who enjoys the music performed along with the audience.

What music are you mostly enjoying at the moment?
A K-pop (Korean pop music) because many times it's a blend of music and dance.

What are the main influences in your music-making?
My teacher and coaches help a lot.

When you are performing, what are your thoughts?
Play from the heart and try to convey the message of the piece.

Where do you study music and what are your future educational plans?
I study music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Pre-College Division.
I would like to go to a conservatory someday to focus on music more.

What are your reasons to participate in music competitions?
Gaining experience with performing and winning!

What is your opinion about GLORY International Music Competition?
I think it’s wonderful that one can enter an international competition without traveling!

When it is not music, what interests you? What is your favorite pastime?
I love to dance modern, hip-hop and tap forms of dance. Also love baking!

What is your favorite food and drink?
Frozen yogurt and lemonade.

What book are you reading now?
‘The Beauty of Darkness’ by Mary E. Pearson

What are the happiest moments in your life?
When I can sleep as long as I want.

What is something funny about you?
I can do a duck call (not on the cello) which makes people laugh!

What things do you not like to do?
Math homework!

What inspires you and what makes you sad?
My cello teacher inspires me to do better.
Animals suffering makes me sad.

What are your strengths?
I can be very determined.

What is your life motto?
Work hard, play hard.

What is most important in life?
Being happy!

What is more important: talent or hard work?
Hard work!

If today was the last day on earth, what would you do?
Visit a great city I have never seen, like Amsterdam.

Why does the universe exist?
Because God created it.

Thank you very much for talking to us.

In this series of interviews, we explore how some of the most talented and prize winning young classical musicians became interested in music, who are their musical idols, what they are working on at present, and what they strive to achieve in the future.