Listen to Kaykay’s original composition submitted with his entry.

Huangkai (Kaykay) Lai (Age 22, Vic)

TO COUNTRY: 100%

Kaykay is an honours student studying Composition at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. He graduated from The Australian National University School of Music studying both Piano Performance and Composition in 2021. He was a recipient of the Dennis Griffin Piano Undergraduate Scholarship.

Kaykay has won awards at numerous regional and national level competitions and has performed in many public concerts. He was the winner of 2022 Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Sutherland Piano Trio Prize, and his composition will be premiered by Sutherland Trio in Australian Digital Concert Hall. He was a finalist in Australian Artology’s Fanfare Competition, and a finalist in Whitworth Roach Classical Music Performance Competition in 2021. Kaykay was also a finalist in the 2015 “Music Ambassador” National Piano Competition, and he won the First Prize in the 2014 Chopin International Youth Piano Competition.

Kaykay was the guest performer for The Australian National University Graduation Ceremony in Llewellyn Hall in 2022. He gave a piano recital at Embassy of Hungary, Canberra in 2021, and performed at Canberra Theatre Centre in 2020.

Composition Inspiration

My composition is called, 100%, which is an abstract concept, as I was hoping that my listeners could go through different kinds of journeys along with my music. The “openness” provides listeners with much freedom of imagination, so they can get inspired to explore the music differently. To me, 100% is an idea of maximising the energy and vitality of an orchestra to acknowledge country and to show respect for the land.

The piece is heavily influenced by Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, and Joseph Schwantner’s …And the Mountains Rising Nowhere. I was impressed by how Stravinsky used the woodwinds as different gestures. To be honest, when I was first listening to Schwantner’s piece, I refused to believe that the sounds come from acoustic instruments. The way he innovated the instrumentation, timbral effects and performing techniques shocked me. Inspired by these two pieces, I prioritised the gesture, texture and, timbral effect of an orchestra. The pitch materials do not matter that much but are the tools for achieving certain effects and gesture.