Henry Liang is an innovative multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Sydney. He is currently serving in the Royal Australian Navy Band as a flautist and is the only active performer in Australia specialising in the Japanese shō – a free-reed bamboo wind instrument first used in the Imperial Court music of Japan (Gagaku) during the 7th century, listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
Henry’s recent appearances include a tour of Germany as flute soloist with the Chamber Philharmonia of Cologne, performing in Guangzhou’s Xinghai Concert Hall with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and in Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Vanguard Series, and presenting flute and shō recitals in Sydney, Tokyo, and New York.
Henry’s practice spans ancient traditions to contemporary and experimental music, composing new music for shō with both modern and traditional instruments. His works have been premiered at events including the Australian Flute Festival (2015,2019), Ensemble Offspring's Open Mic (2018), and in venues including the National Opera Center in New York and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. In 2021, he was one of five composers selected internationally to compose for SEED Composition Academy, led by shō master Mayumi Miyata and sheng master Wu Wei. Kaiko, a 20-minute multi-movement work for flute and shō commissioned by the ABC, will be recorded and released in early 2022.
An adventurous collaborator, Henry has performed with INXS’s Andrew Farriss, visual artist Todd Fuller, and Australian banjo duo Pinch Hitter. He is a founding member of TrioBamboo along with Australian shakuhachi master Bronwyn Kirkpatrick and former Principal piccolo of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Rosamund Plummer. Henry has presented the world-premieres of several new works for shō dedicated to him, including music by Chatori Shimizu and Teetawat Boonchuailea.
Henry enlisted as a Musician in the Royal Australian Navy in 2013. Highlights of his career as a serving member of the RAN Band include performing at the Anzac Day commemorative dawn service in Villers-Bretonneux, flying on a Lockheed C-130 Hercules military aircraft to perform for Prime Minister Modi's International Fleet Review in India, sharing the stage with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games opening ceremony, and performing chamber music for various Heads of State.
As a recording artist, Henry appears on numerous recordings by the Royal Australian Navy Band, including as dizi (Chinese bamboo flute) soloist on the album Spirit of Place. He also plays shō on recordings by composers Aaron Sinclair and Devon Tipp.
Born in Guangzhou, China, Henry began playing the dizi at age six, and the Western concert flute at age eight. Shortly after his first taste of orchestral performance with the Guangzhou Youth Orchestra, he moved to Australia, where his passion for music grew under the guidance of inspirational educators, including Richard Gill and Alex Manton. He is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and was awarded a Fellowship in Music by the Australian Music Examinations Board.
In 2015, Henry was selected by Columbia University of New York to study with world-renowned shō master Mayumi Miyata in Japan, performing concerts in Tokyo, and the following year in New York at The Institute of Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia University.
Henry has 15 years’ experience as a peripatetic teacher and conductor in schools across Sydney, adjudicating and hosting a range of community events. He served as President of the Flute Society of New South Wales from 2014 to 2017.