An interview with Brian Ting — Composer & Performer

“I believe that we all want to express ourselves in some way. That’s why even when something is beautifully designed such as an iPhone, people look for different and unique phone cases to express themselves… and that’s what I do through music, I express myself.”

Brian is a pianist, a music composer and sound director for local theater productions. Becoming a composer is not a common career path, particularly in Hong Kong. There aren’t many music composers in the world quite like Brian Ting. Sure; there are composers — but few are performers-turned-composers. He invokes both passion and energy in his work, and at the same time, continues to explore both music and himself. When Brian talks about music, you can sense that his passion represents an unfiltered, pure version of himself. He creates music that moves you and creates feelings, drawing upon his emotions and experiences.

“I was forced by my mom to go to piano lessons. She forced me for a few weeks before I “surrendered” to her.”

Like many of those who grow up in Hong Kong, piano lessons started for Brian from an early age. Albeit unwillingly, he continued with the classes, and the persistence paid off.

“I always thought it [the piano] sounded “okay,” nothing special. That was until I heard my piano teacher play. It was like nothing I had ever listened to before. It was so beautiful, that ever since that moment, I have been in love with music.”

Since then, Brian continued to play the piano into his adolescence. By the time he started secondary school, he had achieved one of the highest levels for performance in the piano world.

One of the most critical moments in Brian’s music career was during his second year of university, when he decided to switch his focus of study from performing to composing.

“It didn’t matter how great a pianist I had become, there was something I was still not satisfied with.”

Although the piano gave him a creative outlet, he began to feel limited with its ability to express himself.

“Of course there is some level of creativity, and room for me to express myself as a pianist, but at the end of the day, I was playing what other people wrote. I felt like an interior designer in a building, when I actually wanted to create the building from the ground up.”

Since then, Brian has written over ten unique musical pieces. His recent exploration in music is as an active sound designer for local theater productions.

“Most of the theater productions are under a very small and tight budget, so as a sound designer it pretty much means I take care of everything sound related in the show. Usually, I am also the one who performs the sounds backstage. But I enjoy it a lot.”

During the experience of being on the as a sound designer, Brian discovered another element of music that was a new experience for him, working in a team.

“What I enjoy even more is the creation process as a team. Unlike regular composing, where it was only myself and a piece of paper. I found that interacting with others inspires me even more than usual. With the team and the live performance, there is a greater “human touch” to the music.”

When asked about the meaning of music and its importance, Brian gave us an unexpected answer. One may expect a music composer to answer the question focusing on the music itself, yet Brian’s answer gave it a different perspective.

“Music is a connection. It is like a bridge or a rope, or it could be anything. For me as a composer, it is a link between myself and the audience. If there is no-one else out there, I have no need to create any music. It will be meaningless.”

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