Introducing Katy Ho!


What’s your name?

My full name is Ieong Cheng Ho. “Ieong” is actually my mom’s family name and often people will misspelled it as “Leong” or “Jeong”. The word “Cheng” in Chinese means sunny or cheerful. My nickname is Katy Ho just to prevent further confusion of my name.

Where are you from?

I am from Macau, China. Macau was a former Portuguese colony until I was nine years old. (However, I do not speak Portuguese…) Macau is a now the Las Vegas of the East, which represents a mixture of Eastern and Western culture. I lived there for 17 years before I came to the states.

How did you come to the viola?

I started to play violin when I was six years old, my teacher in Macau is actually a viola player in the Macau Orchestra. So when I was around 11 years old, he asked me if I want to try learning viola that I could play as a violist in the student orchestra. Since then, I found myself falling in love with the deeper sound that the viola can produce.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I am currently a 4th year undergraduate student at Juilliard. My current teachers are Miss Heidi Castleman and Mr Misha Amory. I am very lucky to be a member in the ACHT viola studio.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

One of my favorite performances is actually by Chanyun Li, who often cited as “the youngest violinist in the world”. He performed in New York recently as a soloist playing the Chinese violin concerto “The Butterfly Lovers”. It is very special for me to hear traditional Chinese music in New York. I admire his freedom of playing music on the stage. It always reminds me of what true music performance is — to share your feelings that can move the audience.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

I would love to perform Harold in Italy by Berlioz. It is because it is such a great work not only a fusion of concerto and symphony, but also a chamber and symphonic music.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

If I could perform any piece, I actually want to perform “The Butterfly Lovers” on the viola. But technically, it is almost impossible. I would love to perform with the New York Philharmonics because more people will know about Chinese music after this.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

Oded Kishony made my viola in 1987, I was looking for a new viola last year and I tried many violas before I came up to this one. I like it very much because it can produce a resonance sound in the lower strings and a bright sound in the upper strings.

Do you have any secret skills?

My friends told me I can actually sleep with my eyes open! I am not so sure about it as I cannot check it by myself.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

If I am forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day, I will have plenty of sleep, try making a cake (as I am not so good at it), and enjoy some sushi!

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