For senior Sofie Yang, violin has been an integrative part of her life. Growing up in Milwaukee, Yang was first introduced to violin through an “instrument petting zoo” hosted by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO). Since first trying the instrument, Sofie noted, “I wanted to learn how to play! I started [violin] the summer before first grade, so it’s been almost 16 years.” Throughout elementary, middle and high school, Yang became an involved member of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra where she played in small ensembles and string quartets. Also a member in her high school orchestra, Yang volunteered and gave performances in her community.
Despite growing up and having violin and music be a central part of her childhood and high school experience, Yang confessed, “Most people might not know this, but I didn’t plan on pursuing music in college. Lawrence was attractive to me for the double-degree program, which I started out in because I could keep taking lessons with [Associate Professor of Violin] Samantha George while focusing on the study of other subjects.” She commented that the musical environment in the Conservatory is very unique—“open and collaborative”—and though students are challenged, Yang stated the Conservatory is “encouraging yet demanding, [and] flexible enough to be tailored to each individual’s needs and goals.” In the past three years, Yang said that she has fallen in love with music and playing with others, as well as having meaningful and impactful relationships and experiences through the different courses, lessons, coachings and meetings at Lawrence. “The dedication and passion is boundless! I only wish there was time to work with even more,” she remarked.
Besides lessons and being part of the violin studio, Yang has taken advantage of Lawrence’s many musical groups and ensembles on campus. Yang has sat as concertmaster for the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and recently shared first place at the 2015-16 Annual LSO Concerto Competition. In addition, her string quartet, Quartet Masque, has been featured on Wisconsin Public Radio and Kaleidoscope concetts in Appleton and Chicago as well as convocation. Her involvement in not only LSO, but in Fiddle Club and the African drumming ensemble, Kinkaviwo, have helped her developas a musician and see different paths for growth. Yang stated, “Even though chamber groups can be the most difficult since they’re independently run, my favorite and most memorable experiences are from being involved in other incredible collaborations of small mixed ensembles for special concerts and student recitals.” Yang noted other “non-traditional” yet exciting activities and groups that she has been part of, some of which included experimental didgeridoo-ing, being a member of Greenfire and living in Greenfire house, participating in hurdle and pole vault for the track and field team, working with children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley and, as Yang also noted, “head-bang[ing] away in a heavy metal ensemble.” Looking back at her time at Lawrence, she said she feels a lot of nostalgia with just a couple weeks left before graduation.
Thinking about life after Lawrence, Yang stated, “Deciding the next stage of life is a crazy time!” As for now, Yang is excited about moving to Chicago where she will be studying with Associate Professor of Violin and Strings Coordinator Janet Sung for a masters in music at DePaul University. Looking ahead to the future, Yang commented, “I look forward to maintaining old connections and creating new ones, to keep reaching for a higher level of playing, and finding love, truth, virtue and beauty in music.”
Sofie Yang will be holding her senior recital on Sunday, May 22 at 3 p.m. in Harper Hall.