What year are you at Columbia?
I'm a sophomore at Barnard College
What are/will you be majoring in?
I'm double majoring in Ethnomusicology and Economics
How long have you been a participant of the MPP?
I've been lucky to have taken part in the ensembles and programs of MPP ever since my first days on campus freshman year!
How have you benefited from MPP programs and performance opportunities?
The Columbia University Orchestra, Chamber Program, Jazz Program, Weekly Masterclass, conducting and instrumentation courses, and Gogaku ensemble have all been wonderful ensembles/courses that have introduced me to new music and people. Also, performing at Weill Hall through the chamber program, the Italian Academy for the Tribute to Sergei Prokofiev(this April), Symphony Space and Alice Tully Hall with the Columbia University Orchestra, and the Mid-Day Series at Faculty House and Maison Francaise have provided me with so many beautiful venues and opportunities to perform!
Any tips on how a student might be able to fully take advantage of all the musical offerings at Columbia?
Give yourself the time and flexibility to try out some of the programs in MPP that you might not be too familiar/comfortable with. I had close to no experience in jazz and still decided to audition for an ensemble in the jazz department my freshman year. I'm so glad I did, because I have learned how to listen for chordal changes and to be more calm and creative in improvising; these are two skills that are also helpful in my classical music studies. Also, I met some of my best friends in that ensemble!
How do you balance the busy academic schedule with practice time? Any tips?
I am way too much of a multi-tasker. I do my readings while on the treadmill and send emails walking to and from places. Practicing is the only time where it is impossible to multitask, so once I get myself to push aside everything else that's demanding attention, I find myself engaged in some of my most productive moments. It is so hard to ask myself to focus solely on one thing, but it is so worth it! I recommend setting aside a block of time just to dedicate to music a few times throughout the week as if it was a meeting/extracurricular. Other than that, quick fifteen/twenty minute touch-up sessions right before rehearsals will keep you ready!
What was the most memorable musical experience in your life?
This is a really difficult question for me because music has served as both an instigator and reflection on all of my most memorable moments, so there's a lot of varied material to choose from. The last time I became truly overwhelmed and thankful for music while performing was at the New York Youth Symphony's opening concert at the United Palace during the third movement of Rachmaninoff's second symphony, and the last time this same feeling happened while attending a performance was when Emmanuel Pahud's danced from joy playing his transcription of a Mendelssohn Violin Sonata. Although these instances are the first to come to mind of when I've been enchanted by music, I've also been lucky enough to have felt this way in Jazz Clubs, Sofar Shows, and while walking around campus with "The Morningsiders" playing in my earbuds. On a more personal note, I played a solo flute piece at Walden Pond a day after hearing about one of my friends passing away, and hearing the echo of the music in the woods after I finished was a moment that I will never forget.
What does making music mean to you?
Making music means sharing the love you have for yourself, the world, and others. I am so lucky to be who I am, doing what I'm doing, and being with the people I'm with. When I play, I try to focus as much of my energy into projecting my sound to be shared with the people I'm playing with and for. Making music makes me feel so happy, and I want others to share the happiness with me. That's why teaching is equally exciting and fulfilling as performing for me. I'm teaching someone else how to engage with life and people in a whole new way! I'm so thankful to have learned how to explore, express, thank, and love through music.
Anything else you would like to share with the readers? (fav food, fav composer/musician, music recommendation, fav quote, etc.)
I mentioned "The Morningsiders" earlier- they're my favorite band and joined while at Columbia and you should definitely check them out!
I have two performances that I would love to invite you to. The first is my solo recital on Wednesday March 28th at 1pm in the Columbia Faculty house. I'll be performing Ransom Wilson's Carmen Fantasy and Sergei Prokofiev's Sonata for Flute. More information can be found here:https://mpp.music.columbia.edu/events/mid-day-music-at-columbia-featuring-aimee-toner-flute
I will also be making my solo debut with the Columbia University Orchestra on April 22nd and 24th with "Poem" by Charles T. Griffes. April 22nd is at Roone Auditorium in Lerner Hall at 8:00 pm and the 24th will be at Symphony Space at 8:00pm. The whole program is very exciting and includes Bernstein and Tchaikovsky! Here is the information:https://cuo.music.columbia.edu/events