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Susie Yang, Associate Principal Cello, Richard Hill Chair

Susie Yang made her solo debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11. The performance was broadcast on PBS in Chicago and also the classical radio station, 98.7 FM. She has also appeared as a soloist with many orchestras in the greater Chicago area. She won a top prize in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and has participated in the Juilliard Quartet Seminar and the Beethoven Intensive Quartet Seminar at the New England Conservatory of Music. Susie has also been a fellow of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach and was a rotating principal under music director, Michael Tilson Thomas. After winning the concerto competition, she performed the Dvořák Cello Concerto with the New World Symphony in 2007. Susie has performed as a soloist, orchestral and chamber musician at many music festivals, including Sarasota, Schleswig-Holstein, Music Academy of the West, Spoleto Italy and USA, Taos, Yellow Barn, and Festival Mozaic. Originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Susie holds degrees and numerous scholarship awards from the Juilliard School and New England Conservatory of Music, and her teachers include Andre Emelianoff and Laurence Lesser.

Ten questions about me:

When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?

I was not very serious about playing the cello for the first five years of playing. Then, when I was 10, I won a competition in Illinois and was given the opportunity to perform the last movement of the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. My parents showed me a video of Jacqueline du Pré performing Elgar's Cello Concerto. It was an amazingly powerful and moving performance. I was totally inspired to become serious about the cello after watching what she can do.

What is your favorite thing about performing music?

Playing for people, especially people who have never heard classical music or the cello before. It is great to touch someone's emotions through music and really be able to share something that I love.

What songs/albums are in your iPod/MP3 Player/CD Player right now?

Glee soundtracks, Takacs Quartet playing the Middle Beethoven Quartets, Alban Berg Quartet playing Debussy and Ravel Quartets, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Death Cab for Cutie, Stars, The Cure

Who is your most inspiring composer?

Johann Sebastian Bach

What is the best part about being a musician in the Kansas City Symphony?

Like playing in any large ensemble, I love meeting and collaborating with different musicians that have different backgrounds and experience in the music world. The Kansas City Symphony definitely has that aspect and it feels like a big musical family from the moment you join the orchestra.

What is your most memorable performance with the Kansas City Symphony?

The first concert I played here as the Associate Principal is very memorable to me because I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was in March 2010 and we performed George Crumb's A Haunted Landscape, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Robert Levin, and Copland's Symphony No. 4. It was a great concert and a lot of fun for me!

What's your "top pick" for downtown dining, or for a post-concert drink or dessert?

I love Grünauer in the Freighthouse District. They have amazing food, especially the beef goulash and they make creative, and refreshing drinks (try the wine spritzer).

Tell us about your family and your hobbies.

My mom is a cellist, who played in the Seoul Philharmonic before coming to America. My sister is the Associate Concertmaster of the San Diego Symphony. My dad is an avid classical music collector. He has an extensive collection of historical LPs! He does not seriously play an instrument, though. I love to play tennis, go bowling, travel, watch my favorite TV shows, go out to movies, and go shopping.

If you weren't a professional musician, what occupation would you choose?

I am very interested in fashion and writing. I would have been a fashion designer, an editor of a fashion magazine, or an anchor woman/journalist.

Where is your favorite place to hang out?

As long as I am with good friends and there is good food (and a lot of it), I can hang out almost anywhere.