“My favourite part about playing the cello is being able to express myself,” explains Yuna, a Grade 11 student. “I find there’s something very personal about music because we all interpret and play so differently, whether that’s in the perspective of a musician or as someone in the audience.”
New to Branksome Hall this year, Yuna has just learned she was accepted into the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, a role she is thrilled about. Acceptance to the Orchestra is only through an audition process, and Yuna spent most of her winter break preparing for her audition.
“The audition required us to play a concerto of our choice—I played Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor—and a list of orchestral excerpts,” she said. “That is how I was accepted as one of their cellists for the 2021 orchestra, which I am extremely grateful for! I am so excited to meet new people and make new memories.”
Due to the global pandemic, the way the National Youth Orchestra of Canada operates is currently a little different. “This is going to be my first time as a member, but this summer’s expectations are a little different due to COVID-19 restrictions,” she said. “Usually, we would tour and travel abroad to different countries, but a lot of activities such as masterclasses, workshops, lessons and rehearsals are expected to be online.”
Growing up in Indonesia, Yuna started playing the piano when she was six years old, followed by taking up the cello when she was eight. “During my time in Indonesia, I had two different teachers who taught me how to play the cello,” said Yuna. “When I turned nine years old, they suggested that I should study the cello abroad—preferably in Toronto—at the Royal Conservatory of Music. So that’s what happened. And a lot has happened since then,” she added.
In 2016, Yuna placed second at the Canadian Music Competition (CMC) National Finals, which were held in Drummondville, Quebec. “That’s also when I joined the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and currently, I’m in my fifth year,” she said. “I’ve also been a part of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) for two years now.”
Through this experience, Yuna has been able to perform with the TSYO alongside the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, at Roy Thomson Hall, the Sony Performing Arts Center, the Canadian Opera Company and the Meridian Arts Centre.
Yuna joined Branksome’s orchestra and has been enjoying playing with her fellow musicisions. “This is actually my first year at Branksome Hall, and I am a part of Branksome’s Orchestra,” she said. “Although everything has been online so far, it’s been a fun experience to work with other musicians at Branksome, as well!”
“I consider myself as someone who’s quite introverted but cello has brought me to stand on some of the greatest stages in Canada and I say this with a lot of gratitude,” she said.
Yuna particularly enjoys the element of performance. “The stage itself is so exciting—the thrill of dressing into a dress suit, waiting backstage, walking on stage with my heels clicking, people clapping at my entrance,” she said. “Communicating with the audience with a lot of emotional intensity is my favourite part while performing,” she adds. “I also love performing with my friends and other musicians, which is why I love chamber music and orchestras. Having people appreciate your music is also always an amazing feeling—like my family, as at the end of each performance, my mom would always congratulate me by driving to one of my favourite restaurants.”
“Cello—and music, in general—has shaped my life the way it is today. Most importantly, I’ve gained and learned so much from picking up the cello,” said Yuna. “That moment led to the place I stand today and I am so thankful for everything. And I am so thankful to be sharing this moment with everyone, which means so much to me.”