Susie Yang  

My Musical Journey

Susie Yang
April 1, 2019

Editor's Abstract (Click to Hide)

In the following Article, cellist Susie Yang discusses her career path as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra musician. Having attended both the Julliard School and New England Conservatory, and having served as a fellow with the New World Symphony, Susie provides great insight into the world of young orchestral musicians operating at the highest levels. Susie talks about her childhood dreams, her inspirations, and her experiences in various musical settings. For any young musician looking to join the ranks of a professional symphony orchestra, Susie's story is a valuable resource. Since writing this article, we are happy to report that Susie has been appointed Associate Principle Cellist in the Kansas City Symphony! Congrats Susie!

- Stephen Danyew

My Musical Journey


When I was five years old, a cello was brought into my world. My sister had already been playing the violin for three years prior to my entrance into the world of classical music. She absolutely loved the instrument and the music! Honestly, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the new responsibility and expectations that came with a musical instrument. I was quite shy and I did not want to disappoint my parents who enthusiastically thrust a cello into my hands at this early age. Still, I remember the time I firmly decided to become a serious cellist – I won a competition and was given the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra! It was an absolute dream, and I was determined to do that for the rest of my life. I watched soloists like Jacqueline DuPre and Mstislav Rostropovich master the cello repertoire on VHS frequently as a child and I dreamt that one day that would be me.

For many years during my childhoold, my family attended Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerts at the Ravinia Festival and though the orchestra sounded beautiful, I was always most entranced by the soloist that was performing with the orchestra. I remember thinking – I want to be that soloist. At the time, I never really thought about becoming one of the musicians in the actual orchestra. There are certainly kids who strive to be one of those orchestral musicians, but I was simply not one of them. In fact, many of my friends who are auditioning for symphony jobs now would say that they always imagined becoming a soloist or teaching at a major conservatory. Becoming an orchestral musician was not on their agenda and it was not part of my plan either. I was determined to become a major soloist.

High school passed by with a flurry of competitions and solo concerts, but my dreams of becoming a soloist were not yet fulfilled. I was determined to get accepted to The Juilliard School. I knew that many great soloists studied, trained, and performed there.

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