Introducing Sergein Yap

Sergein YapWhere are you from?

Born and raised in Miami, Florida.

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

Current Rice MM student.

Why did you choose to play viola?

I came to the decision of playing the viola because my eldest brother played viola, and I wanted to take after him. I remember playing on his viola one day when he brought it home from school. I accidentally broke a string, and eventually my parents decided it would be good for me to start as well.

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

Miami – Richard Fleischman and Viera Borisova

CIM – Jeffrey Irvine and Lynne Ramsey

Briefly at NEC with Martha Katz

Rice – James Dunham and now currently with Ivo van der Werff

What or whom are your most important musical influences?

Richard Fleischman, Jeffrey Irvine & Lynne Ramsey, Martha Katz, Ivo van der Werff, and Thomas Riebl

What are your favorite viola pieces and why?

Vaughan Williams’s Romance

Brahms’s Two Songs, Op. 91

Schumann’s Märchenbilder

Hindemith’s Sonata, op. 31, no. 4

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

I used to be set on trying to make a chamber music career, but I think it’s important to be well rounded and open to anything and everything. I enjoy teaching very much, and I like to say that chamber music is why I still play the viola. A combination of teaching, performing in chamber music ensembles or a full-time orchestra, and perhaps continuing my endeavors in arts administration would make for a balanced and diverse career.

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

The orchestra program under Larry Rachleff is definitely one of the highlights of the Shepherd School of Music.

How committed all the teachers are to their students and teaching.

Feeling connected to the university and not just confined to a conservatory environment.

The complimentary student tickets to the Houston Friends of Chamber Music concerts.

Who are your favorite violists and why?

Lynne Ramsey: Aside from being able to play and teach everything under the sun, Ms. Ramsey is one of the most generous and kind persons I know.

Martha Katz: Her recordings with the Cleveland Quartet and her amazingly kind and intuitive nature. During my undergraduate days I studied with her for a few summers, and she constantly inspired me to be a better musician and person.

Thomas Riebl: His aura, zen-like manner, and unparalleled musicianship. He demands so much from his students while being an inspiring and mind-blowing mentor.

Pinchas Zuckerman: His Brahms Sonatas and Two Songs recording with mezzo Marilyn Horne.

Paul Coletti and Lawrence Power: For the gorgeous tone they produce.

What was one of your best musical experiences?

Quartet at CIM: Beethoven String Quartet, op. 135, with Ling Ling Huang, Miran Kim, and Erica Snowden (three of my closest friends and three musicians I’ve had truly special musical connections with).

Who is the maker of your instrument and bow?

Viola: Dr. Heinrich Dünnwald (Stefan-Peter Greiner’s business partner for many years). Dünnwald developed corpus patterns and the varnish recipe for their instruments. Dr. Dünnwald is a physicist and has done extensive research on Stradivari varnish and acoustics.

Best awkward stand-partner/ orchestra/ audition experience?

During one of my high school orchestra concerts I went to the restroom toward the end of intermission. The orchestra proceeded to go back on stage for the second half of the concert while I was still in the restroom. Unfortunately I was the last person on stage and as I hurried back on, the audience and orchestra applauded for my entrance!

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

If I didn’t play the viola, I’d probably play a woodwind instrument. At this point though, if I didn’t play viola, my other career paths would be in the culinary arts or arts administration.

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