Academy Alumnus Appointed Principle Oboe at One of the 'Top-three' French Orchestras
Bobby Cheng Chi-yuen
25 May 2016
Bobby Cheng Chi-yuen joined the list of Academy alumni who have excelled abroad with his recent appointment as Principal Oboe of the I’Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, one of the three major ensembles in France.The 24-year-old young musician - the first foreigner to hold this prominent position in a French orchestra - will report for duty in September.
Talking about his appointment, Bobby doesn’t see any direct relationship between ability and seniority, “Many players are very young nowadays - some even become principal before they reach 20. The reason I was chosen probably has something to do with a performing style the interviewers were looking for.”
Cheng began his music career at eight when he became a student of Yiu Song-lam, current Head of Woodwind, Brass and Percussion at the Academy. After his secondary education, he received a full scholarship to study at the Academy’s School of Music. Majoring in Oboe, he obtained a first honour in his Bachelor of Music (Honours) degree in 2014. He finished his Master’s degree in July 2016 at the Conservatoire NationalSupérieurdeMusiqueetDansedeLyoninFrance.
Yiu Song-lam, who has been teaching Cheng for 16 years and inspired him to follow a career in music, takes pride in his student’s recent appointment. “As his teacher, I’m so glad to have witnessed his growth and achievements both as an individual and as a musician. I’m really proud of him.”
Cheng recalled his student life at the Academy with much joy and happiness. “I got plenty of chances to perform, including solos, at the Academy. Collaboration with the Academy Symphony Orchestra and Baroque Ensemble, as well as the weekly concert practice helped improve my oboe technique. Besides technique, the training we received also focused on the psychological side of performing live.”
“My heartfelt gratitude goes to my teachers at the Academy’s School of Music, including Professor Sharon Choa and Benedict Cruft, current and former Dean of School of Music respectively, Alan Cumberland, former Head of Woodwind, Brass and Percussion, and Dr Levesque Shane, Senior Lecturer (Historical Performance Practice). Above all, I wish to thank Yiu Song-lam, current Head of Brass and Percussion, for sharing his wisdom about life in addition to providing me with a good start on the instrument.”
When Cheng was a student at the Academy, he participated in both local and overseas music contests and competitions with much success. In 2012 alone, he won three international music awards, 1st prize at the 5th Giuseppe Ferlendis International Oboe Competition in Italy, and, in the United States, 1st prize in the Wind Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and School, and 2nd prize at the 41st International Double Reed Society Oboe Competition.