Andover Musicians Take on Cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s #SongsOfComfort Challenge

In the midst of this unexpected period of separation, musicians around the world are finding ways to stay connected. World-renowned classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma recently began the #SongsofComfort initiative to encourage musicians to share their work in an effort to lift up those on the front lines or at home. Andover students have taken the challenge head on, with performances by Emma Fu ’21, Luke Henderson ’21, Lexie Mariano ’21, Evan Tsai ’21, and Ariel Wang ’21 featured on the Andover Admissions Instagram page. Henderson, Tsai, and Wang performed a selection from Johannes Brahms’ “Piano Trio No. 1,” a piece the three had originally planned to perform as part of the Chamber Music program. Meanwhile, Fu and Mariano performed piano solos, playing Claude Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” and Frederic Chopin’s “No. 4 Ballade in F minor,” respectively.

Lexie Mariano ’21:

I thought it was a really cool thing for musicians to do. Personally I’ve had a lot of experience using the gift of music to raise money for certain causes. In the past, I’ve had a few concerts where we [were] trying to raise donations for various causes, like for natural disasters. And I really wanted to do something for Covid-19… Whenever there’s anything going on in my life, personally, whenever I had a bad test or a bad grade or something, I always feel like I go to Graves and just practice. I feel like music has a very calming effect. Obviously, there’s music therapy and stuff, But I think music is just really relaxing, and it kind of centers me.

Ariel Wang ’21:

Right now, as we’re all distanced, we can’t physically rehearse together—not for orchestra or anything. So all of our music, we do alone. In this way, it was like a group effort in a way that felt really good. Even though it took more effort to do it as a group, I feel like it really demonstrates a togetherness and a sense of community. It helps with inspiring hope to just get through everything right now, to be a team, because music, in so many ways, is a team effort. And that’s not something that we’re getting right now as we’re all social distancing. So working on this, it was not only fun for us, but I think we were able to provide a sort of humanity and positive energy to the community from a distance.

Emma Fu ’21:

During my stressful moments, this song was just a sense of comfort for me, and every single time, no matter how many times I’ve listened to it—I’ve listened to this so many times—but every single time that I play this song or I hear it, there’s just something about the melody that makes me calm down entirely… That was definitely a benefit, to actually just learn this piece and to hear this music that has always played such an important role in my life from my own hands…It definitely comforted me, and that’s what I really want to share.

Editor’s Note: Emma Fu is an Arts and Leisure Editor for The Phillipian. Lexie Mariano is a Live Editor for The Phillipian.