Skip to content

I am a cellist: Cindy Won, the SFSYO’s European Tour, and Music’s Vivid Mark

July 27, 2015

For senior Cindy Won, the cello’s rich and brilliant notes are like a second language—one she has been studying since the age of five. In the past twelve years, Won has been an cellist for several organizations, including the Del Sol Quartet, the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra, and now, starting her fourth year, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO).

“I remember having practiced the same excerpts, scales, and solo piece for nine months straight through two auditions,” says Won, as she relates her journey to earn a coveted spot in the SFSYO. “I’ve actually wanted to join this orchestra since seventh grade, when I first saw them live at the Bay Area Youth Orchestra Festival (BAYOF Hope). There was something incredibly special about this orchestra in comparison to the orchestra I had previously been in and the other ones at the festival; anyone could noticeably see the passion in how the musicians played.”

Passion is something not unfamiliar to Cindy Won, who allows music to be a “personal companion,” whether it be through her cello practices, or the whistling and singing she is known by her friends to do on a regular basis.

“Music is definitely something that I am able to connect with and be able to express the inexpressible…on a personal note, there is a beauty and intimacy about music that one cannot just snatch away,” Won says. “Music really allows people, especially our youth who will transcend into the next generation, to comprehend the environment in which they live in.”

Music has also allowed young people to travel internationally. Just recently, Won came back from performing a tour in Europe with the SFSYO.

Nagisa Ariza_Won getting ready to play

ABOVE: Won getting ready to play at the SFSYO. Credit: Nagisa Ariza

“We went to several different locations to perform—Milan and Udine of Italy, Ingolstadt and Berlin of Germany, Amsterdam of the Netherlands, and Prague of the Czech Republic,” Won recounts. “We took numerous pieces to play, but my favorites were definitely Berlioz’s ‘Symphonie Fantastique’ and John Adams’ ‘Short Ride in a Fast Machine.’ Symphonie Fantastique actually tells a story about a man who is infatuated with a woman and the hallucinations that he undergoes; while playing the piece, there are themes that I could really connect back to and understand the music to a deeper extent.”

Aside from the trip, what Won loves about the SFSYO is the relationship formed with other members of the orchestra who—like Won—are all part of the operation in making the fervent emotions come through each piece, bringing them to life.

“The orchestra itself gives so many opportunities to its musicians to grow and become one united group; it’s an incredible experience,” Won says.“I’ve always been an orchestral person instead of a soloist.”

Through music, Won has been able to connect with pieces, people, and periods of time, transcending barriers of paper notes, different schools, and changing cultures. For her, music is all about the bonds, feelings, and understandings that can only be cultivated through song.

“Within a growing generation of innovation and technology, it is difficult to remember and appreciate the inexpressible. At times, it feels as if technology has become the center of our lives,” Won admits. “However, music allows youth to be able to express their emotions, passions, basically everything that cannot be expressed in another tangible form. It’s important to remember how much music also reflects upon the culture of a time period or a group of people, which allows people to have a cultural awareness.”

With such a thoughtful outlook on music, it’s no question that Won is an exceptional artist. But it’s not wishful thinking that has earned Won her experiences as a musician—it’s the hard work and love she puts into her craft. When asked to give a piece of advice to an aspiring musician, her response reflects her own twelve-year path of arduous—but gratifying—work:

“Enjoy what you do. The music world is indeed difficult and competitive, but if you have the willpower to go forward, you will find everything to go as you wish.”

Cindy Won is part of OneDublin’s “Arts & Humanities: I Am” series, a project that strives to showcase the growing talent Dublin High students have to offer. If you know someone with a love for the arts and the humanities, please email us at We’re excited to do a feature!

Author Grace Li is a Dublin High School Class of 2015 graduate who will be attending Harvard University.

Nagisa Ariza_Won at the San Francisco Youth Symphony Orchestra

ABOVE: Won at the SFSYO. Credit: Nagisa Ariza

%d bloggers like this: