This month we were thrilled to find out that Alum Alex Wong is interning at VH1 Save The Music Foundation whilst studying for his degree at NYU. SDYS began a partnership with VH1 Save The Music Foundation and Chula Vista Elementary School District last year to provide instrument grants to schools that hire a full time music teacher.
Read our interview with Alex below to find out about his studies, performance highlights at NYU, SDYS memories and his musical ambitions.
What have you been up to since leaving SDYS? Are you still studying and performing music?
After I graduated high school, I moved to New York to study at New York University. I am currently a senior at NYU receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Viola performance. I study with Karen Ritscher and Stephanie Baer who have both been phenomenal role models and mentors during my time in the city. Outside of school, I perform regularly around the city doing as many freelance performances as I can.
What’s been a highlight of your studies at NYU?
One of the many highlights, besides the incredible staff and students, is the amazing performance opportunities. During my time at NYU, I have played in multiple pit orchestras for musical theater and opera productions as well as performing symphonic and chamber works in some of the greatest halls in the country. Most recently, I performed with Paul Simon at the Beacon Theater at the Steinhardt School Gala Event. It was such an honor to perform on stage to a cheering crowd with a musical legend.
Tell us about what you’re doing at VH1 Save The Music Foundation? What attracted you to work at the Foundation? Have you been working on the partnership with SDYS’ Community Opus Project?
At the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, we are working to fundraise money to support music education around the country. Our next fundraising event is the VH1 Save The Music Honors in the Hamptons where we will honor individuals who have used their influence to support music education. Last week, I visited a Save The Music grant recipient elementary school in Queen, NY. It was incredible to see the joy in the faces of the students as they performed on stage for their peers. It reminded me why I play music and why it’s so important for every child to experience.
How has music education changed your life?
I like to think of myself as a “product” of what the Save The Music Foundation has to offer. I began playing violin through my public elementary school music program and found my love for music there. My passion for music has taken me across the country and around the world to perform with some truly amazing musicians. I think it’s unfair to say that music “changed” my life, because my life has always been music.
What is your favorite SDYS memory?
I will ALWAYS remember my summers with the International Youth Symphony. To this day, I am still in contact with many of the musicians I met, even though I haven’t seen some of them in 5 years. It’s always amazing to me that no matter where you’re from or what language you speak, music is universal. I had no idea who any of the international students were, but the fact that we could all come together regardless of age, nationality or language barrier to play music always inspired me.
What are your hopes for the future?
My future plans had always included graduate school at a conservatory. I will be applying in the fall and have been practicing all summer to prepare! Auditions are always so stressful and having my job at the Save The Music Foundation has been a great outlet and a wonderful experience. My dream would be to form a string quartet to perform professionally or to play in a professional orchestra.