Accompanied by excitement and applause at the 2022-2023 Matriculation Ceremony, an annual event welcoming all new students to Andover in the Cochran Chapel, William Ge ’25 walked onto the stage. As he sat down before the grand piano, a wave of silence washed over the audience, giving way to his performance of “L’isle joyeuse, L.106” by Claude Debussy.
Having played the piano and violin since early childhood, Ge was already an experienced performer before entering Andover in 2021. Initially influenced by his cousin, piano became a major part of Ge’s life as his curiosity for the instrument soon sparked into a greater passion.
“I have been playing piano since I was four years old, so almost eleven years…. There was a piano in the house, and I would occasionally go and mess around as most children do on the piano… after a bit of time, it became me doing music for myself because it’s fun to just be able to sit and improvise things,” said Ge.
Over the past few years, Ge has found meaning in sharing music with his community, such as performing in outreach concerts for senior retirement centers. He is especially passionate about discovering the historical contexts that shaped the way composers wrote the pieces and sharing those views with others.
“There are a lot of stereotypes that playing classical music is just playing the notes on the page, and everybody plays it the same way, and there’s one perfect way to play it. [But] they’re more than notes on the page, [and] people who wrote these were three-dimensional beings. I think being able to share less conventional [interpretations], sharing that hidden story, and, of course, a personal touch, is what music means to me,” said Ge.
Assuming an upperclassman would be picked for this performance opportunity, Ge was surprised when he was chosen for the spot. Despite Ge’s initial worries of playing for the largest audience he has ever sat in front of, his familiarity with the piece and story he created allowed him to navigate his performance with ease.
“I think the story I have for this piece is still in construction. I do have a distinct story for the first three minutes of this piece, but from the three and a half minute mark to the four minute mark, I don’t really have a story. But being able to tell my story in my head calmed me down a bit. Of course I was super excited, but I think it was really awesome to play in front of that many people, and especially I’d never imagined that I’d do that in my Lower year. It was a huge honor,” said Ge.
Looking ahead, Ge not only wishes to grow technically but also emotionally. He also hopes to continue engaging with the community and discover more ways to incorporate the audience in his performances.
“I [hope] to interact with the community more [through music]. Piano in general, especially classical piano, it’s a very one-sided thing. Pianist plays a piece, everyone claps, pianist bows and gets off the stage. End of story. So interacting with my audience, maybe even incorporating the audience while playing, [is something I strive for],” said Ge.