The Violin Channel recently had a chat with Stella, a few days before the exciting step in her career.
You can purchase tickets to her New York Philharmonic debut, here.
How have you been preparing for such a large step in your career?
Practicing, teaching, eating, sleeping — maybe a few extra face masks. Oh yes, and the Olympics are coming up, so I’m very busy keeping up with all of the figure skating news and drama (big Nathan Chen fan and shout out to @theSkatingLesson).
Can you tell us about the pieces on the program for the upcoming concert?
Maestro Lee has a fantastic program in store. I’ll be contributing to the celebration, performing Waxman’s fiendishly difficult arrangement of themes from Bizet’s Carmen and 马思聪思乡曲 (Ma Sicong’s Nostalgia), one of, if not, the most beloved piece of Chinese people in the last century.
The Waxman is virtuosic, operatic, dramatic — showcasing a kaleidoscope of techniques and testing the limits of possibility on the violin. Ma Sicong was nationally beloved and regarded as a wunderkind both as a violinist and composer. 思乡曲 (Nostalgia) is the second movement of his Inner Mongolia Suite, a heart-achingly beautiful national treasure. In fact, I first learned the piece when I was about ten years old because my mom wanted to hear me play it!
What is the significance of having your NY Phil debut on the Philharmonic’s Lunar New Year concert?
I think the New Year is a universal time of anticipation, determination, and celebration — all emotions very much at the surface as I prepare for my NY Phil debut!
What are your favorite traditions for celebrating the Lunar New Year?
I have fond memories of spending Lunar New Year with family growing up, receiving red envelopes, and wrapping dumplings! I also love 酒酿汤圆, a fermented rice wine dessert that my mom makes.
I haven’t been able to spend the day with family in a while, but it’s always nice to be with friends as well. This past year, I had 떡국 for the first time thanks to Jenni Seo and Minji Choi — I’m obsessed!
What does the year of the tiger signify to you?
A year to be fierce, adventurous, and embrace life!
What advice do you have for younger Asian American women in entering the field?
During my high school and undergraduate years, I spent many sleepless nights fretting over “which path to take” and second-guessing my decisions. Shedding that pressure to live up to presumed expectations and having the courage to find my own path liberated me both musically and in other aspects of life.
Be vulnerably daring, keep searching, listen to your own artistic voice, and hold your loved ones close along the journey!