Introducing Rebecca Lo

Rachel LoWhere are you from?

I was born and raised in Taiwan; moved to New York State when I was 13.

Are you a current Rice student? If not, what is your association with Rice?

Yes, I am currently a senior at Rice University.

Why did you choose to play viola?

Because I love the deep, warm sound that can be produced from the viola! I feel like the viola can speak more and tell more stories than the violin that I used to play when I was very little.

Where and with whom have you previously studied, and who is your current teacher?

I have been on and off with the viola, because I had to put a lot more focus on school work since English was my third language when I first moved to the US. But I occasionally flew to LA to visit and take lessons from my uncle, and I studied with Rachel Ku from the Philadelphia Orchestra (who is the wife of our assistant conductor, Tom Hong!) for six months before I auditioned for college. I am currently studying with Mr. Dunham at Rice.

What or whom are your most important musical influences?

I grew up in a church and was born into a musical family (my mom was a piano teacher, my uncle and grandpa were all violin teachers); I was pretty much surrounded by music. I started learning the piano when I was 5, violin when I was 7—later on I made a smart choice by abandoning it to play the viola (haha!)—and flute when I was 10. I started playing the piano at church services when I was in 6th grade, so performing in public became a monthly, if not weekly, thing for me.

What are your favorite viola pieces and why?

Currently my favorite viola piece is the Vieuxtemps Viola Sonata. I love it because it is so beautiful and lyrical, while it has got a lot of cute, energetic things going on in the piece.

Ideally where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

It would be awesome if I could play in an orchestra that is in somewhere awesome and fun such as NY, LA, SF, or Houston. Hawaii sounds amazing too…….!!!

What do you like about Rice and the Shepherd School of Music?

I love Rice University because I always wanted to go to a university that has a big student body and a lot of varieties of classes compared to a conservatory. I’m very happy to be here and be able to get an amazing education on both music and academics! The Shepherd School of Music is marvelous, of course. It is so well planned out and put together compared to a lot of music schools. It is so clear that the people and faculty put a lot of mind and heart into it to make a wonderful music school.

Who are your favorite violists and why?

Yuri Bashmet is one of my favorite violists. I love his romantic playing; his Bruch Romance is so beautiful that it always makes me feel like I’m in love!(haha!)

What was one of your best musical experiences?

I was at a festival hosted by the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra over the summer. It was a wonderful experience to be able to work with amazing musicians including Cho-Liang Lin, David Chan (the concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera), Ben Hong (assistant principal cellist of LA Phil), Brian Chen (principal violist of San Diego Symphony and faculty of USC), and others. They were always standing next to us during orchestra rehearsals, constantly giving us comments and feedbacks. It was an incredible experience and a great orchestra training camp.

If you didn’t play the viola, what instrument would you play?

I would have definitely picked the cello if I didn’t play the viola—that’s the whole point of playing the viola, because I love the deep, warm sound!

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