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Artist of the Issue: Clara Ma ’23

Artist of the Issue: Clara Ma ’23

Artist of the Issue: Clara Ma ’23


Contributing Writer

Pahal Bhasin '26

Clara Ma ’23 is a four-year Senior from New Jersey. She is the principal flutist of the school’s orchestra and a member of the Philharmonic orchestra. She is a member of Girls Varsity volleyball, co-head of Songs for Smiles and the Humane Society, board member of Society of Women in STEM, and senior advisor for the Fashion and Style Club. Clara will continue to pursue her passion for music at the University of Pennsylvania next year.

What art classes have you taken at the school? I am currently enrolled in Honors Senior Music, and I took Music History as a Prep and Lower Mid. Throughout my four years at the school, I have participated in the orchestra and taken private lessons.

How did you discover your passion for the flute? When I was nine years old, my teacher was teaching me how to articulate in tongue, so she brought me to her backyard, placed uncooked rice on the tip of my tongue, and told me to spit it out. I thought that was really fun. After that, I screamed, “I love playing the flute” and kept going from there.

What do you love the most about the flute? The flute is a very vulnerable instrument, and is very similar to singing in tone. I love playing it with a group of flutists, in an orchestra, or with just one other person. I also love playing individually.

What was your most memorable performance? A memorable experience during my flute career was definitely playing with the Hotchkiss Orchestra in Spain. I was able to play as a soloist in the concerto, an opportunity I never had before. The experience was also significant to me because I wrote a cadenza for it by ear. Creating an improvised ornamental passage is something jazz musicians do a lot, but I had never tried it before. Although I was uncomfortable at first, I gained a lot from the experience in the end.

How has the school helped you improve as a musician? With numerous ensemble and chamber events, the school has provided me with many opportunities to grow as a musician. I’ve been pushed to work harder. I’ve also learned to work better in a group setting. Mr. Fabio Witkowski [head of the visual and performing arts department] has been critical to my improvement. He is always there every time I’m trying to submit a recording for a competition and as emotional support before a recital, when I’m really stressed about. Ms. Allison Hughes [instructor in flute] has helped me so much with musicality, especially with ways to feel more confident before a performance.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians? Don’t take other people’s successes or strengths as something to be insecure about, but as something to be inspired by. If you come to the school from a place where you might have been at the top, it can be very intimidating because you might lose that confidence here. But you should build that confidence back up and use your peers as inspiration. I’d also say, take advantage of the performance opportunities here, because nothing can match performing in Elfers. When we played in Carnegie Hall, I went in with so much more confidence, because performing in Elfers had primed me for that.

What are your future plans for your music career? I definitely want to continue playing in an orchestra in college, and I would also like to continue my involvement with music-based community service — whether that be continuing working with a club that has the same mission as Songs for Smiles and going to nearby nursing homes or local schools to teach underserved children or just doing it on my own time. I also want to continue training individually.

Pahal Bhasin is a contributing writer for The Record.

September 28th

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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