How long have you been playing the cello?
I started playing when I was five years old. Contrary to what one might suspect of Asian parents, I wasn't forced into it. My dad is actually an amateur jazz bass player, and he would often take me to his jam sessions at a local jazz club when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I guess I began showing a keen interest in music then, as I was often trying to pluck the strings on my dad's bass and always wanting to make some sound on it. My dad took this as a sign and decided to give me an instrument that was one size smaller to try out, and that was the cello.
Where have you studied?
I began my formal studies in Japan as a young child, but started taking lessons at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music when we migrated to Australia when I was about 12. At 18, I won an extremely generous scholarship to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in the UK where I completed both my bachelor's and masters. I'm currently finishing up my doctorate at USC, where I'm in my last semester.
How did you end up at LMU?
I knew one of the LMU faculty members from before since we have played together on several occasions in the past. One day she told me that they were looking for a cello teacher, and so I sent in my resume and rubbed the magic lamp.
What do you like about working with students?
I have always enjoyed teaching, but there's something special about working with young students. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but it's something about the genuine interest they show in their desire of making music as one of their tools of communication. Music is incredibly powerful and can have such a profound effect on a person. Composers, especially those from the Romantic era, often wrote pieces that expressed a lot of emotions, usually as a result of some personal experience they went through. Therefore, I feel it is my duty to give the students the right tools to help them express a whole range of emotions, whether they be sad or happy, through the cello.
What do you think about Los Angeles?
I love it here. The diversity this city offers is really quite incredible. And with diversity comes great food from literally all four corners of the world, and that's something I'm totally into! I do miss the four seasons sometimes, though; but, having lived in gloomy England for 5 years, the weather we get here is a nice change.
What will you be performing in your recital, and how did you choose those pieces?
Firstly, I do have a faculty recital coming up this Friday, April 8 at 8 p.m. in Murphy Recital Hall. I have chosen some fantastic pieces written for cello and piano, and since I'm repeating the same program a few days later at USC, I've chosen pieces that I absolutely love to play. I tried to incorporate a range of styles, from the youthfulness of the Beethoven to the soaring melodies in the Prokofiev to the jazzy harmonies in the Rakov. It's a program jam-packed with absolutely brilliant pieces. It's a free concert, so do come and bring your friends. I would love to see lots of beautiful faces on those empty seats — preferably with bodies attached, though.
What is your favorite type of music to perform, and what draws you to it?
Talking strictly about classical music, I feel very fortunate to say that I enjoy playing music from all periods, everything from Baroque to contemporary 20th and 21st century music. But I do enjoy playing other genres of music, too. For example, I have played with people and bands like Ben Folds and Pink Martini, and I still get a good kick out of it, just a slightly different kind. In the end, whatever type of music I play, I feel the final aim is the same: to translate the intention of the music to the audience and hopefully they go away having gone through a certain kind of emotional journey.