Exploring My Passion for Music at Cornell

This week, Ambassador Eric writes about music ensembles on campus.

By Eric Shen ’20 Physics, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Music majors

The music ensembles at Cornell are so numerous and diverse that you are bound to find one that suits you so long as you have the interest for it.

I’m part of the Chamber and Symphony orchestras, the Eastern Music Ensemble, chamber ensembles, and help my friends out with all the projects they have in store. As a string player, these are just a few of the possible groups to perform with. There’s even jazz combos, opera, ukelele club, African or Brazilian or Japanese percussion, choruses, a capella, a capella, and (I almost forgot) a capella.

The french horns with Grammy Award Winning trumpet player and A.D. White Professor, Wynton Marsalis before premiering his Blues Symphony at Bailey Hall.

Usually my days are filled with lecture after lecture after lab after lab, so by the time it’s all done, I’m more than ready for a change of pace. Music just really helps me unwind and it really helps that everyone else is coming in from a long day too. The ensembles here aren’t limited by major, so you’ll get to interact with students and faculty from countless backgrounds, all with a common passion.

The orchestras picking apples at Indian Creek Farms!

These groups have become my family in these past few years through all of the travels, performances, and time spent together. Because I have rigorous majors, it became difficult to study abroad, but I realized that music could take me around the world. I’ve been able to explore and perform in Argentina and Taiwan with the orchestra so far and am more than grateful to have seen these countries from the perspective of a musician. Next year, I’m set to conduct the Eastern Music Ensemble in New York City and perform with the Chamber Orchestra at a conference in Vancouver. Many of the ensembles travel around the state or country to compete and perform, and all of these experiences let us experience the stage as a professional while still pursuing the countless fields of studies outside of music. 

The Cornell Orchestras with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra after their combined performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Mahler Symphony No. 1!