20231201 Alumni Spotlight 2
Chaeyeong returning as a guest artist for the Tianjin Juilliard Orchestra. Photo credit: TWAN vision

Originally from South Korea, Chaeyeong Lee (MM ’23, percussion) completed her undergraduate studies at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore and graduated from The Tianjin Juilliard School in May 2023. Now, she works as a percussionist in the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra.

Chaeyeong wrote a book titled “The Rhythm of My Life”, which has recently been published in her native Korean. The book details her personal musical journey, offering insights and anecdotes from her auditions with orchestras whilst providing valuable tips. She wrote an entire chapter to recount her experiences at The Tianjin Juilliard School. This chapter serves an in-depth exploration of TJS, covering everything from introducing the school and its program to her personal campus life and valuable lessons she learned along the way. This chapter provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of her experiences in school on her musical journey. Through The Tianjin Juilliard School’s Student Career Development Grant, Chaeyeong was able to get enough support to have her book translated into English, and the English version will be published soon. 

20231201 Alumni Spotlight 3
Cover of Chaeyeong's book "The Rhythm of My Life"

Grateful for the school’s support for each individual student, Chaeyeong regularly returns as a guest player for Tianjin Juilliard Orchestra concerts. Recently, she came back to perform the crucial offstage chimes part in Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, and shared some of her reflections and memories over her past two years at The Tianjin Juilliard School with us. 

20231201 Alumni Spotlight
Chaeyeong at the Class of 2023 Commencement. Photo credit: Shengyi Visua

What were some highlights during your time at Tianjin Juilliard? 

Definitely the commencement performance--my percussion studiomates and I performed “Trio Per Uno” by Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic in front of faculty, students, guests and family. My mother came all the way from Korea to attend the performance, making it truly unforgettable.  

Were there student life experiences that you felt unique to Tianjin Juilliard? 

Tianjin Juilliard provided many unique student life experiences, but one that stands out was when resident conductor Ken Lam took a group of students to perform with the Macau Symphony Orchestra for their 2023 New Year concert. This experience allowed me to learn from professional musicians and gain insights into how a professional orchestra works and performs.                      

Additionally, Tianjin Juilliard organized various student events, such as Halloween and Christmas parties, hiking trips, visits to the Great Wall, and graduation trips to different cities in China. These events made my life at the school exciting and provided opportunities to bond with my colleagues. They made us feel like one big family.  

Was there anything specific about studying at Tianjin Juilliard that was different from your past experience? 

One unique aspect of Tianjin Juilliard is community engagement. As part of our studies, we had to perform for and engage with the local community three times over two years. Once, a few friends and I visited a local middle school, where we not only performed but also interacted with the students. We asked them questions and learned about their experiences in music. I will forever cherish this valuable dialogue of sharing music and engaging with the local community. 

How did studying at Tianjin Juilliard benefit your professional development?           

Studying at Tianjin Juilliard opened doors to various opportunities and gave me the tools to succeed in a competitive music industry. Also, the lessons we received from faculty combined with the plentiful performance opportunities prepared me well for auditions. We also had opportunities to play mock auditions, which were organized by the school. These auditions took place in the concert hall, allowing us to experience the sound differences in a larger space. My studio teacher, June Hahn provided feedback on every excerpt and piece we performed, which greatly helped me prepare for future auditions. The care and support we received from the faculty were instrumental during this process. 

Additionally, I worked as an intern in the Career Services, Outreach and Alumni Office. Along with my colleagues, we searched for music-related jobs not only in China but globally to share with our fellow Graduate Students. To ensure that they all get easy access to audition and job opportunities, we regularly posted updates about orchestral jobs, teaching positions, summer festivals and postgraduate study opportunities worldwide. This internship allowed me to contribute to the music community and support my fellow students in their own career aspirations.  

What is your current relationship with the Tianjin Juilliard community? 

It has only been five months since I graduated, but I had a lot of great memories here, so I keep in touch with my friends and professors closely. Thankfully, Tianjin Juilliard still gives me the opportunity to participate in Tianjin Juilliard Orchestra performances, and I always really enjoy coming back here.