Growing up in a family of professional musicians where everyone could play at least two instruments, it is hardly surprising that Motoki Hirai became a concert pianist and composer. However, Hirai has expanded his horizons well beyond the realms of conventional performances, with music facilitating his participation in a variety of cultural, philanthropic and international exchange activities.

Hirai's father, Takeichiro, is a professional cellist and his late grandfather, Kozaburo, was a well-known composer. Moreover, his mother is a pianist and his brother a conductor, while his grandmother was a violinist. "We were so lucky to have lived together with our grandparents. We learned a lot from them. Music was just everywhere — it was like the air we breathe or having a meal," he says of his childhood.

While the piano is Hirai's main instrument of choice these days, the violin was his first love and he recalls his debut solo public performance at the age of 3. He performed a piece chosen by his grandfather: the British national anthem "God Save the Queen." This seems quite fitting in hindsight, given that England became his second home.