Creating Distinct Harmonies

“You need to be clear on your vision. Do what you want, but know what you need to do and what you want to achieve – that way, things move fast and you don’t waste time.” Speaking with Mindy Chang, one feels her dynamism and the decisiveness with which she expresses herself.

Beginning her music journey in the Singapore National Youth Orchestra at the age of 16, Mindy studied events management, and subsequently horn performance at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts before coming to YST – a longer road than some of her peers, but ultimately one that gave her space to grow as a musician.

Asked what impacted her the most, Mindy shares that it was the trust that her mentors showed in allowing her to set her pace of learning and strike her own path forward. “During lessons with my major teacher Jamie Hersch, we not only worked on musical technique, but also spent time addressing the mental and emotional aspects of being a horn player. He trusted me to take ownership of what I needed most; I would not be the same musician without him.”

Looking ahead, she will join the Shanghai Orchestra Academy (SOA), where students learn from playing alongside professional orchestra musicians, in partnership with the New York Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Having attended a one-week residency at SOA, Mindy said, “I chose the SOA because of its modern and applied approach, international environment, diverse faculty and collaborations with leading orchestras. I believe it will be a challenging experience that will build my skills as an orchestral musician.” Fellow graduate Lan Ying-Chieh (Bassoon) will also join SOA.

(Earlier in March, students Benny Lim Wei Cheah, Kong Xianlong, Pei Yi-Ting and Qiu Sheng performed in the SOA’s 5th anniversary concert. Read more here.) 

Chamber music was key in Mindy’s experience. While at YST, she has played in Singalaywan, a woodwind quintet she formed with fellow YST classmates. In her final year, she also went on a student exchange programme at the College of Music, Mahidol University. “Being in Singalaywan has helped me to develop the nuances of my music, blend it with a group, and in the process discover new chapters of sound. We’ve also learned to exercise leadership with empathy and sensitivity. I’m especially grateful for our teachers Assoc Prof Zhang Jin Min and Artist Faculty Ma Yue, who emphasise chamber music and push us to live up to the standard we can be. And working with the musicians in Thailand really changed my perspective on music-making. I was struck by their passion, community spirit and willingness to learn from each other.”

Alongside the clarity of her vision lies an openness in perspective. She says, “Making music is not just performing on your instrument – it’s how to make music happen, and how to be with the music when it happens. There are so many ways to go about it, and so many paths that life can take us – who knows?” Though an open question, we know she will set her own clear, confident vision wherever she goes.

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