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Getting to know faculty member, Randy Wong, bassist, music-in-education

Thu, 2015-04-23 09:24

What advice would you offer to young performers?

Build your fundamental skills to virtuosic degrees. Don’t just listen to music, but transcribe what you hear. Start a journal of interesting orchestration techniques… then transcribe them. Study solfege like it’s your first language. Learn a favorite piece by transposing it to a different key. But above all, never give up and don’t put yourself down. Music can be a lifelong passion, and you don’t have to “get it” right away… You have your whole life to improve.

Apart from music, what other activities do you find enriching in your life?

Community service and volunteerism. There are many non-profits out there who rely on volunteers to carry out their basic services. However, there’s usually a shortage of people who actually reach out and offer to help, particularly with basic or menial tasks. (Everyone wants to do the “important stuff”). I like to be one of the people that helps at the most basic levels.

Who has been your biggest source of inspiration throughout your education/career?

Musically: My peers, particularly at NEC. There’s a tremendous source of creativity and life here. From students to faculty, it’s incredible how much dedication there is collectively to our craft. Many people that I perform professionally with now, I originally met in high school and college. It’s very inspiring to be able to learn, perform, and grow together.

Non-Musically: My parents, grandparents, and wife are super sources of inspiration. Both of my grandfathers worked continually into late stages of their life (mid 80s and early 90s). My parents never let me give up my dreams of success. And my wife is a very dedicated violinist herself.

If you could choose one career outside of music, what would it be?

I’ve always been curious about dance. I never took any Western dance classes (only Hawaiian hula, which is a requirement when you grow up in Hawaii), but I’ve always been fascinated by movement and choreography. There’s so much music inherent in dance, and vice-versa, so it would probably be a good fit for my interests and personality.

What is your favorite genre of literature?  What’s the most memorable thing you’ve read in the past year?

I haven’t gotten into any fiction in a very long time. The last books I read were “How the States Got Their Shape,” which is mostly American history, and then a mathematics book, “The Joy of X.” That said, I’m trying to get into Ernest Hemingway, and am starting with his short stories.

What have you been listening to most recently?

Classical: the new “Balance Problems” album from yMusic; Pierre Fournier’s Bach cello suites; music of composer Michael-Thomas Foumai; Joe Foley’s album “Nightsongs” with Bonnie Anderson.

Non-Classical: Music recently released by my NEC peers.
“Shaken by a Low Sound” album by Crooked Still; “Lock My Heart” album by Heather Masse and Dick Hyman; “Nuestro Tango” by Natalie Fernandez; “Secret Love” album by Sara Leib; and “Ugandan Suite” by Felipe Salles; “Center Song” album by Steve Treseler; “Cockpit” album by Bootyjuice.

Do you have any pets at home?  If so, where is your favorite place to take them for a walk?

I have two “budgie” birds. They don’t walk much, but they’re also not so great at flying, so basically they glide around my music room.


Get to know NEC Prep Faculty, Barbara Winchester, voice

Fri, 2015-04-03 15:48

What advice would you offer to young performers?

Learn how to practice–I hear so many young performers playing a phrase wrongly and who keep practicing over and over that bad habit, take a difficult passage very slowly
and starting with the end of a piece instead of always the beginning.

Apart from music, what other activities do you find enriching in your life?

My husband and I have taken tango lessons for years and are planning a trip to Argentina. I enjoy interior design, art, especially African American artists, Mexican artists like Tamayo, Rivera and Siequieros, and I like reading, especially biographies.

How would you describe the tone of your instrument/voice?

I don’t go for a single tone for all pieces, I like a variety of colors. My sound is rich and unforced.

Who has been your biggest source of inspiration throughout your education/career?

My teachers, my father, for his work ethic and my husband, who is a composer.

If you could choose one career outside of music, what would it be?

A doctor, specifically a pediatrician.

What is your favorite genre of literature?  What’s the most memorable thing you’ve read in the past year?

I love poetry.  After all, it’s my business! I think that students should memorize poems.  When I was in a bilingual (French) school, I could recite many by heart.

I loved “The Giver” and I am constantly reading.

What have you been listening to most recently?

Old tapes and Diana Krall.


Junior/Senior MYWE Concert Interview with Diego Bacigalupe!

Fri, 2015-03-13 16:35

Today we had the chance to talk with one of Senior MYWE’s musicians, Diego Bacigalupe! He gave us some insight on some of the pieces that will be played as well as some of the difficulties that came in preparation of the Junior and Senior MYWE combined concert.

What have been the challenges of this program and how have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

The most challenging part of preparing Sunday’s program is mastering the music with the limited rehearsal time. We only meet as a group once a week, making it difficult for us to learn a lot of music. This has forced us to prepare diligently for rehearsals, focus during rehearsal, listen and adjust to each others playing. Even with limited and scattered rehearsal time, we can efficiently learn music to perform.

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

I’m most looking forward to hearing Jr. MYWE play their music and play with us. Live wind ensemble performances don’t happen often so hearing another group play similar music is a rewarding experience. I also can’t wait to perform with Jr. MYWE because the combined group will sound amazing. When I was in Jr. MYWE, I would have loved the opportunity to play with Sr. MYWE.

Pick your favorite piece on the program. What does that piece mean to you?

My favorite piece on the program is Eric Whitacre’s October; I love the colors he evokes. This piece is special to me and many others in Sr. MYWE because we played it back when we were in Jr. MYWE. Playing it again after we’ve developed into more mature musicians is an amazing experience.  The fact that we’re playing this piece in a combined Jr./Sr. MYWE concert brings it full circle.

Is there an experience with music that inspired you to be a musician?

When I was 7 years old, I remember visiting my grandfather while my family was in Spain. He played jazz cornet with his friends in a band and I remember watching him perform for people on the street as a hobby. I thought it was so cool that he could do this for fun with his friends and entertain strangers on the street so from then on, I always wanted to be a musician.

What is your favorite piece of music?

I don’t have an all-time favorite piece because I love so much music, but right now my favorite pieces are Respighi’s Pines of Rome, and Chabrier’s España.


Victoria Hain and YPO’s February 19th Concert

Thu, 2015-02-12 17:21

We had a chance to speak with Victoria Hain, percussionist for YPO.  Be sure to check out YPO on February 19th in Jordan Hall! Here’s what she had to say:

What have been the challenges of this program and how have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

I think a unique challenge I’ve had to face as a percussionist is playing a range of dynamics on an instrument like crash cymbals. Soft crashes are always a struggle as a result of the weight and size of the crash cymbals.

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

I am most looking forward to the Sibelius Violin Concerto because, out of the parts I have this cycle, I play the most in the Sibelius.

Pick your favorite piece on the program. What does that piece mean to you?

My favorite piece is John Harbison’s Remembering Gatsby. It is a different kind of music than our orchestra nominally plays which is exciting. It reminds me of the 1920s and the music from Toy Story, making the listening experience almost nostalgic.

Is there an experience with music that inspired you to be a musician?

When I was in fourth grade the high school band toured all the elementary schools and showed off all the instruments in an attempt get younger kids interested in music lessons. I was fascinated by the kid who was playing drum set and I really wanted to become a rock n’ roll drummer. Ironically enough, throughout my 9 years as a percussionist I’ve studied almost exclusively classical, seldom touching the drum set.

What is your favorite piece of music?

My favorite piece of music is Hoagy Carmichael’s Heart and Soul because pretty much everyone knows how to play it, so it’s always fun to goof around on various instruments and make music with friends.


Looking forward this Sunday’s Youth Symphony concert with Edward Yeo

Thu, 2015-01-22 10:40

Edward Yeo shares his excitement and enthusiasm about the upcoming YS performance on January 25th!

What have been the challenges of this program and how have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

YS has helped me by being able to play as principal, giving me solos to help
me get used to be playing alone to the public. It has also helped me by getting to know more standard repertoire and pushing my technical and musical boundaries like Firebird.

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

I’m looking forward to playing the Rhapsody in Blue and Nabucco, because I love jazz and opera!

Pick your favorite piece on the program. What does that piece mean to you?

My favorite piece has to be Nabucco because of the chorus part. Nothing sounds better than an orchestra and choir singing together, because it adds a depth of color and meaning to the music.

Is there an experience with music that inspired you to be a musician?

There are many things and people that have inspired me to be a musician and to stick with it, there is no one experience or person. Those who inspired me are Kinhaven, Stokes Forest Music Camp, Martin Fröst, Herbert von Karajan, Charles Yassky, David Herndon, Dave Sapadin and Richard Shaughnessy.

What is your favorite piece of music?

My absolute favorite piece without a doubt is Death and Transfiguration by Strauss. I played principal for that piece and said, “I could play this piece for 10 lifetimes and still not get sick of it.” I do want to try bass clarinet on that piece also.



MUSICIANS OWN MUSIC BECAUSE MUSIC OWNS THEM. VIRGIL THOMSON