A recent graduate, classical pianist Tong Wang '17 B.M. has the world at her fingertips. From the moment she stepped foot onto NEC’s campus she jumped on as many opportunities as possible. Tong spent just as much time in the practice room as she did out in the world, giving back and making a positive mark on the surrounding communities. You know what they say – what goes around comes around, and Tong definitely got as much out of her charitable efforts as those who benefited from them.
On campus, Tong was a voice of the NEC student body as a student senator, addressing student life issues such as the quality of food in the cafeteria, and the practice room policies. Tong was also involved with NEC’s student newspaper The Penguin, for which she illustrated cartoons and comic strips. In NEC’s Liberal Arts department, Tong proved herself to be a skilled writer in her role as an assistant, where she not only contributed to the academic journal Hear Here! but also helped with the publishing process.
But Tong’s desire to give back reached much further than the confines of campus. During her first year here, Tong became involved with NEC’s CPP (Community Performances & Partnerships) Program as an individual fellow. She visited senior centers in Boston to enrich the lives of the residents through musical engagement, and experimented with playing a wide variety of music ranging from baroque, classical, and jazz to pop and musical theater. Through her involvement with NEC’s EM (Entrepreneurial Musicianship) Program, she landed herself an internship with BMOP (Boston Modern Orchestra Project), where she worked as an administrative assistant, a position that gave her hands-on arts administration experience. Tong didn’t realize just how useful and beneficial her experiences on campus and with CPP and BMOP would be until she embarked on an artistic endeavor with her friend and classmate Wesley Chu to launch Zenkora, an enormous, multi-media project that has been in the making for over ten years.
Zenkora is a sci-fi fantasy multiverse that combines original music, dance, drama, illustration and animation, improvisation, poetry, and storytelling. Premiered in May, 2016 in NEC’s Brown Hall, Zenkora was an elaborate concert that brought together all of these artistic elements. “Zenkora is not only a personal project,” Tong and Wesley explained in an email, “but also an effort to bridge the differences between art mediums, between traditional and unconventional methods of artistic creation.” Their hope is that the combination of its music, stories, characters, and arts “will bring a sense of passion and excitement to people’s lives.” This project won the pair an EM Grant, a coveted award which provides students with the funding and mentoring they need to jumpstart their work.
After graduation, Tong will continue giving back to the world through music in a unique job she landed with Lincoln Center Stage. As pianist in residence, Tong will perform with a piano quartet aboard a cruise ship on the Holland America Line that, in conjunction with Lincoln Center, will present live chamber music played by professional ensembles touring the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. After this adventure, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree somewhere on the West Coast, and plans to continue experimenting with non-conventional ideas and collaborations. She hopes to someday come back to Boston to teach. Dean of Students Suzanne Hegland summed it up perfectly when she said “Tong is incredible – she does it all!”