14 September 2020
Sonny Chua (1967-2020)
Composer, pianist and music educator Sonny Chua has died at the age of 52 years, following a stroke.
Born on 2 November 1967 in Penang, Malaysia, as the eldest of four children, Sonny Chua also lived in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Malacca before the family immigrated to Australia. He continued his piano studies in Melbourne, attended the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, later completing a Bachelor of Music degree at University of Melbourne, Conservatorium of Music, specialising in piano performance. Primarily self-taught as a composer, he also conducted studies in composition with Peter Tahourdin, Barry Conyngham and Brenton Broadstock.
Sonny Chua's music is characterised by its playfulness with styles and musical techniques. His music strives for the beauty of simplicity and brevity, and speaks in an accessible and lively language. As many of his piano pieces were written as educational works for his students, there is a particular emphasis in developing performance techniques in these works.
Chua's music is listed on all Australian examination syllabi and his piano works are regularly heard in competitions for young musicians and on the radio. He was sought after as a speaker on piano teaching and music education at workshops, festivals and conferences.
From 2002 to 2007 he taught at Melbourne High School, was the last Director of Music at the Mac.Robertson Girls' High School, and later the Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at Carey Baptist Grammar School in Melbourne.
The AMC would like to express our heartfelt condolences to Sonny Chua's family and friends, and all those people, many of them quite young, into whose lives his music brought so much joy.
> Sonny Chua's piano music is available on the Theme & Deviations album (Move) available from the AMC. For collections of Sonny Chua's works for piano, see for example Sonny Chua piano music: vol. I (Preliminary and Grade 1); Sonny Chua piano music: vol. 2 (Grades 2-3); Sonny Chua piano music vol. III (Grades 3-5); and Sonny Chua piano music : volume IV (Grade 6-8 - includes CD).
© Australian Music Centre (2020) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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i was very shocked to hear of the sudden death of Sonny Chua. His music brought great joy to audiences and young people. What a wonderful thing he achieved.
A terrible loss
I always loved teaching Sonny's compositions; his music is full of fun and joy! His untimely passing is such a terrible loss. My thoughts are with his family and friends.
a masterful performance
Sonny taught our son at MHS. Perhaps this email, written to Sonny after the 2006 Speech night, explains in a small way how good he was, and at so much.
We felt compelled to write and congratulate you on your masterful performance on Tuesday.
The boys sang very well & with great emotion – their rendition of Cohen’s Hallelujah was inspiring.
More than that, we were mesmerised by your hands.
The movements were contained, yet powerful and evocative.
The boys responded to your slightest movements.
We felt privileged to have witnessed this performance.
My wife wants the DVD of it and your other masterpieces.
Sonny's response was humble, naturally.