Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Instrument(s): Viola, piano
Age you began playing: Viola at age 7; piano at age 3
Year you joined the TSO: 2011
Who or what inspired you most to play your instrument? I never picked the viola—I didn’t even know what a viola was at the time! I started with the Edmonton Public School Board programme. We were told to fill out a form and rank what instrument we wanted to play. I wanted to play the cello, but my mother decided “no”—she didn’t want to carry it around for me. So she put “violin” as my first option. In the end it didn’t matter, because the teacher decided to put the whole class on viola! Ultimately, I fell in love with the instrument.
Most memorable experience performing with the TSO: All of the Late Night concerts.
Does your instrument have a story? My viola is an Amati copy with Guarneri finishings, by Roger Hargrave. Roger is one of the best makers in the world right now; he used to document all the Strads, Guarneris, and Amatis, and therefore has an encyclopedic knowledge of the instrument. The viola I have is the one he built for himself in 2011 to show at a violin-making competition.
What is interesting to you about working in an orchestra? I love the idea of 100 or so musicians sharing one experience.
Why are orchestras important? Orchestras are large vessels promoting culture and the arts.
What wisdom would you impart to students and aspiring musicians? Make sure you really love it if you want to enter the field. It’s an incredibly rewarding journey but along with great highs, there are immense lows. Be prepared for the lows as well.
What is your favourite music to play? Mahler, Strauss, and Wagner
Who are your favourite musicians in any genre? Miles Davis, Motörhead, Leonidas Kavakos, Yefim Bronfman, The Jerusalem Quartet, The Berlin Philharmonic, Career Suicide
Diane Leung joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2011. She has performed throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician. From 2006–2010, Diane held the position of Assistant Principal Viola of the Palau de les Arts Orchestra in Valencia, Spain, under Lorin Maazel and Zubin Mehta. She has also played with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Claudio Abbado, as well as the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra under the conductor Grzegorz Nowak. Ms. Leung previously held the position of Principal Viola of The Juilliard Orchestra under the conductors James Conlon, James DePriest, Otto von Mueller, and Sir Colin Davis. She has participated in the Sarasota Music Festival, Domaine Forget Chamber Music Festival, and the Spoleto Festival in Italy, as well as in programmes at The Banff Centre.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Ms. Leung began her musical studies on the piano at the age of 3 and the viola at the age of 7. She won numerous awards, including the top prize at the Canadian Music Competition and at the National Kiwanis Music Festival, both in 2001 in the chamber music category.
Ms. Leung holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where she was on a full scholarship and studied with Karen Tuttle, Misha Amory, Kim Kashkashian, and Carol Rodland. She also completed her Professional Studies Certificate on full scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Michael Tree and Karen Dreyfus.
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