"Meet Our Students": Cindy Liu (CC '18)

What year are you at Columbia?
(A burnt out) junior.

What are/will you be majoring in?
English Literature & Sociology aka Being Doubly Unemployed.

How long have you been a participant of the MPP?
Since I stepped foot on campus.

How have you benefited by MPP programs and performance opportunities?
What's most striking about MPP's influence are the communities formed--some of the most talented musicians I've met are also fascinating, complex, fully-fledged people. MPP works tirelessly and formidably to ensure everyone can pursue their passions to any degree they wish, even at an institution as strenuous as Columbia. I've grown more as a musician in my 2.5 years here than I could ever have imagined--indeed, my entire relationship to music has shifted for the healthier--and I owe it to MPP.

Any tips on how a student might be able to fully take advantage of all the musical offerings at Columbia?
Stop by 618 Dodge and you'll leave in 15 minutes with an entire list of ensemble, lesson, and performance opportunities. Or, send Jane an email, she's really good at answering them. Also, in music and in life, if you really want something, you don't stop for anything or anyone until you get it. Be forward and flexible when articulating your passions. And, make friends! Be a real person! Be grateful! 

How do you balance the busy academic schedule with practice time? any tips?
For me, practicing is self-care--wholly personalized, intense release, engaging parts of one's mind that remain otherwise untapped. As such, practicing makes time for itself, as routine as caffeinating or assembling another all-black outfit for the night. Nevertheless, particularly hellish weeks necessitate sacrifice, and practicing is a constant negotiation between what one cannot afford to put off and what one feels necessary to do. Creating a practice schedule helps, as does constructing practice time as indispensable alongside the rest of your commitments, depending on how rigorously you hone your craft.

What was the most memorable musical experience in your life?
One splendid June morning, Professor Walter Frisch invited me to sojourn to Maurice Ravel's house in Montfort-l'Amaury, a sleepy, ancient southern suburb of Paris. Ravel's house (where he remained a recluse after leaving Paris in the '20's), "Le Belvédère," is where only Ravel could have existed comfortably--it has all the spaciousness of a dollhouse; trinkets abound and threaten to topple from floor-to-ceiling shelves. To enter this house is miraculously to embody Ravel's very being. It's as if he was simply out for a walk along the French countryside and would return any moment. The floors creak with age, as did our charmingly boisterous host--the white-haired Mme. Moreau, who has preserved the space for 25+ years. As we made our way to his piano room, the very air seemed to condense, as if it, too, sensed just how alive and buoyant Ravel's spirit was. To my great surprise and delight, Mme. Moreau motioned for me to try the piano (after an aside to Professor Frisch that the French government could never know she was allowing it). I don't think my heart has ever pounded as ecstatically as it did when I sat on Ravel's piano bench, felt his piano's keys. It was a moment of absolute astonishing communion with this composer whose music touches me so deeply, whom I have always found so desperately unreachable.

What does making music mean to you?
Music-making extends far beyond the confines of self-expression, social tool, art, transcendence, and intimacy. Music represents everything we love and hate and fear and ache for, and also all that we do not yet know (or wish to know). The choice to express oneself truly and wholly can attach to any medium, but music is an especially suitable one because it has an inherent paradox: it exists, but doesn't exist. One can play a note as profoundly or forcefully as one wants, but it by definition must remain ephemeral (even recordings can only go so far as to capture one vibration and the next). But, because of this infinite transience, music also holds infinite power--one note or phrase can mean anything you wish at any given moment. It can evoke an entire history; it can contain every universe. That, to me, is electrifying.

Anything you would like to share with the readers? (favorite food, summer activities, favorite quote, etc)
I like Prokofiev, noodles, wearing hats, wine & cheese, and reading. Favorite quote is from Sylvia Plath's devastating The Bell Jar: "I am, I am, I am."