Hong Kong Sinfonietta will welcome French musician brothers Romain and Thomas Leleu for two concerts on 8 and 9 July at Hong Kong City Hall: DOUBLE ACTs, Great Brass Concertos: Trumpet & Tuba: 2-in-1, and DOUBLE ACTs, HKS Recital Series: Virtuoso+.
Ahead of their concerts, the brothers shared with us their musical journey which started at a very young age, and their enthusiasm to play together for the first time in Asia.
Romain was born in 1983 and Thomas in 1987 in a family of musicians in Lille, France. They got their musical education from a very young age by their parents and they both started playing an instrument at 6, trumpet for Romain and tuba for Thomas. While Romain decided to be a musician when he was a child, Thomas did not want to be a professional until he was 15. They both studied at the Conservatoire de Paris in France, both winning the first prize in their category.
Throughout the years, Romain and Thomas earned several awards worldwide. They both won the Revelation Instrumental Soloist of the Year at the annual French classical music awards, the Victoires de la Musique Classique: Romain in 2009, and Thomas in 2012. Thomas was the first tuba player to have ever won this award.
A multifaceted musician exploring different universes and repertoires ranging from Baroque concertos to 21st century works, Romain Leleu is considered as one of the most eminent virtuosos of his generation.
Romain has been a soloist with the main French and European orchestras, as well as in North and South America, and Asia. He is a regular guest at leading worldwide festivals, and has premiered works by contemporary composers such as Martín Matalon, Philippe Hersant, Karol Beffa, Jean-Baptiste Robin, Vincent Peirani and Baptiste Trotignon.
In 2022, Romain launched his album Move with Harmonia Mundi label, paying tribute to major composers of film music, like Nino Rota’s The Godfather and Ennio Morricone’s A Fistful of Dollars, or Miles Davis’ Elevator to the Gallows and Michel Legrand’s The Young Girls of Rochefort.
Romain has also recorded Hummel, Haydn and Neruda concertos with Baltic Chamber Orchestra; André Jolivet, Georges Delerue, Karol Beffa, Jean-Baptiste Robin and Martín Matalon concertos with Orchestre d’Auvergne; Shostakovich’s Concerto for Piano and Trumpet with Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt; and music for trumpet and organ with Thierry Escaich.
At only 35 years of age, Thomas Leleu is considered as “one of the best tuba players of the world”, one of the few tuba players in the world to lead a solo career, and an iconoclastic artist passionate about world, modern and pop music.
Thomas has been Principal Tuba of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille since the age of 19. He is regularly invited to perform at prestigious venues with renowned orchestras around the world, and he has appeared in numerous festivals worldwide.
Several contemporary composers have dedicated their works to Thomas, such as Richard Galliano, Vladimir Cosma, Airelle Besson, Claude Bolling, Jean-Philippe Vanbeselaere, Marc Steckar, André Waignein or Dominique Probst.
Thomas has also released several albums: In the Mood for Tuba (Fondamenta / Sony Music), Impressions for Tuba with the Royal Band of the Belgian Air Force, Stories… (ARS Produktion), as well as Born to Groove (NoMadMusic / Pias) featuring his own compositions of jazz and popular music.
Both brothers are passionate about mixing musical genres and repertoires, encompassing a wide range of composers and styles, from Baroque concertos to modern works.
“To find our personal balance, we need to play in many different styles, which is why we don’t have a favorite project. We love to eat up genres. We don’t put any limits on ourselves. When we play a piece – original, creation or transcription – we think the best way is to be authentic. When you are authentic, you can play whatever you want,” explain Romain and Thomas.
In parallel to their personal soloist carrier, Romain and Thomas regularly play together their own arrangements for trumpet and string quintet, ranging from classical to tango, jazz and film music. Being brothers make their collaboration more intuitive, helping them to listen to each other more naturally.
“We are brothers indeed, and there is something totally natural between us, in the music, the phrasing, and in the breath too. This is very important, very special, and we discovered it at the beginning of our duo”. Something the brothers say they cannot explain to us!
Dedicated to transmitting their passion and to advocating for music education for all, Romain and Thomas are both giving masterclasses and teaching regularly at leading worldwide institutions.
“For us, music in education is very important. Several studies have demonstrated that kids or young people who have had a musical education have better results at school, and are more efficient in their work. It is really mind-opening for the future life. Learning music is a real engagement, and we are never finished learning. If we have a piece of advice, it is to keep enjoying, and to share your art or music with a large audience,” Romain and Thomas say.
With Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Romain and Thomas will perform two concerts on 8 and 9 July at Hong Kong City Hall.
The Great Brass Concertos: Trumpet & Tuba: 2-in-1, with Hong Kong Sinfonietta Music Director Christoph Poppen, will feature pieces including Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto, and Vaughan Williams’ Tuba Concerto. Poppen will also lead the orchestra in Haydn’s Symphony No 6, “Le Matin” and Mozart’s Symphony No 35, “Haffner”.
In the second concert, Virtuoso+, the brothers will present brass music ranging from Gabrieli to Piazzolla, joined on stage by the brass musicians of Hong Kong Sinfonietta.
The two concerts will mark the return to Hong Kong for Thomas, who performed with Hong Kong Sinfonietta in 2019, and the debut for Romain. It will also be the first time Romain and Thomas will perform together in Asia.
“We are very happy to come here together for two different programs. We are very interested by the concerto and by the brass ensemble concert. Romain will play Hummel concerto and I will play Vaughan Williams concerto, who are two of the most popular pieces for our instruments. And we will also play with Hong Kong Sinfonietta brass players for a special concert centrered on French pieces by Delerue, and also famous pieces for brass ensemble,” says Thomas.
Very enthusiastic, Thomas finally adds that they both love Asian food – food being their second passion after music!
More details on the two concerts can be found below: