“Although we are qualified sailors in the band, we only go on sea trips occasionally – the job is really quite diverse.” As a musician in the Royal Australian Navy Band, Australian flautist Henry Liang has found himself in situations rather unusual for the everyday gigging musician. “I really enjoy the travelling,” says Liang, who flew to India earlier this year – a three-day flight each way in a C-130 Hercules aeroplane of the type that was in service during the Vietnam War. “It was fascinating to go into the cockpit and see them fly the thing.”

Born in Guangzhou China, Liang began his musical career on the Dizi – a type of Chinese bamboo flute. “I didn’t come from a musical family at all,” he says, “my grandpa used to sing Chinese opera to me, and I always thought it was just weird – Chinese opera is quite strange to the ear if you haven’t heard it before – but that was the extent of it, musically.”

Australian flute player Henry Liang

He began learning to play bamboo flutes in second grade as part of his school’s traditional...