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Story of Self
Hi! My name is Will Yao and I've worn many hats during my time as a student at Harvard College. I've been a part of numerous student organizations, teams, groups, and everything in between. But I've found, as many have found, that over the years the people and things that matter most grow clearer and shine brighter, taking priority and becoming the biggest parts of my college experience and life. The Brattle Street Chamber Players is an ensemble I am proud to have been a part of for four years, and honored to have had the opportunity to study for my action research.
I became enamored with the Brattle Street Chamber Players, in fact, a few years prior to stepping on campus as a College student for the first time. My big sister (College '18) had just joined this small, conductorless string orchestra as a First-Year and my parents and I traveled from Rhode Island to Cambridge to see her first performance with the ensemble. I'll never forget that evening's performance of Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. Imagine a piece of music that contains the most heart wrenching, angelic, intense, and serene melodies all at once. The Serenade for Strings by Tchaikovsky is one of the truest gems, not only of the string orchestra repertoire, but of all music.
There was magic in witnessing the ensemble of students perform with its whole heart, driven by the tangible passion of each Player giving everything they had, and feeding off the energy of every other Player. I don't know exactly when or exactly how, but that evening a dream to join the ensemble if I ever had the opportunity, was forged.
When wide-eyed First Years arrive on campus and begin to parse through the overwhelming abundance and variety of opportunities for student involvement available to them, it's hard and can sometimes be difficult to identify find a place to start. I started with the Brattle Street Chamber Players. I spent little time devoted to anything else in my first week besides practicing for the rigorous two round audition process for the BSCP. Everything I remembered from that first performance so many years prior kept fueling the fire, knowing that there was a chance I could become a part of a group that I had, for some time already, believed was truly special.
So the rest is history. Over the past few years, I've played countless concerts with the group, labored over difficult musical and administrative decisions, grown as a violinist, musician and person, and learned what it really means to be a conductorless ensemble and what it takes to realize a collective mission. Beginning my junior year, I became a Board member for the ensemble, taking on a larger scope of responsibilities, much of which involved steering the group through the COVID pandemic, and then later back to live concert stages. I think one of the Brattlers I interviewed for my action research said it best: "A Board position isn't a position of power, it's a position of commitment." As a Board member, I worked through logistical challenges, concert season planning, and publicity. But most importantly I did my best to set an example for others, and create a BSCP that would continue to thrive long after my final downbeat with the group.
The process itself of undertaking this action research has even further proven to me how important Brattle has been throughout my College experience, bringing back many fond memories as I've interviewed Brattle members from eras past and thought critically about the ensemble's organizational structure. Coming up on my graduation, reflectively, there's a few things I am grateful to be able to consider myself. Some of the main ones are Applied Math concentrator, Kirklander, education innovation researcher, and of course, Brattler. The Brattle Street Chamber Players, now and forever, is my family.