When Mayron Tsong was a little girl, her home was filled with pianos. In her father’s workshop there were as many as forty-five at any one time. Everyone in her family played, even the cats.

“The cats really liked to play along with us,” laughs Tsong, who recalls how they would jump on the keys during her practice sessions. All that practice paid off. This year Tsong released her first solo album and played at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

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Her album features the works of Russian composers Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Scriabin. “The harmonies are just to die for!” Tsong says. The intricate textures of Russian music make it difficult to play, and Tsong enjoyed the challenge. Russian music has also been a lasting source of inspiration for her. Though she didn’t decide to pursue music as a career until she was nineteen, she realized when she was only twelve that she had a true passion for the piano. Tsong recalls that she was playing a concerto by Rachmaninoff when it suddenly hit her that playing the piano made her truly happy.


Her selections for the album included Russian pieces she knew inside and out, but the recording process was more complicated than Tsong had anticipated. First she had to choose the right recording hall, then the perfect piano, and a capable piano technician. Fortunately, the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York had wonderful acoustics and an ideal location — right next to a cemetery. But even with quiet neighbors, it was still a challenge to arrange microphones in the hall for a good recording. She also had to contend with the climate affecting her sound — the hall had no air conditioning or heat.

After finishing her album, Tsong was invited to play a recital at Carnegie Hall, where artists such as Camille Saint-Saens, George Gershwin, and even the Beatles have performed. She was very excited and very nervous.

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“When you think about it it’s almost like imagining, as a little girl, your perfect wedding,” Tsong says. She was surrounded by friends, students, and family. They traveled from all over the world; her parents even flew in from Taiwan. Before the concert, when she went through her routine of tweaking the sound and making sure her music was in order, she felt like she was preparing to play any old concert. But when she got up on stage she found that playing at Carnegie was magical. “It’s like a secret kingdom you have just been given access to,” she says.

Tsong isn’t slowing down. She’s planning a second album in which she will focus on Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. There are many sonatas attributed to Haydn, but the authorship of some of the works is contested. Scholars suspect that the real composers used Haydn’s name to get their pieces published. Tsong plans to include many of the contested sonatas on her album, and will write about the history behind these pieces in the album booklet. She also hopes to perform in London at the famous Wigmore Hall. Since London was one of Haydn’s favorite retreats, she says it would be the best location to launch her new album.

But all of that is far in the future. In the meantime, Tsong will continue teaching, and she’ll perform every chance she gets. She says she can’t imagine a life without piano music. “I just really love to play.”

Meagen Voss received a master’s degree in neurobiology in spring 2010.

Mayron Tsong is a Steinway Artist and an assistant professor of piano in the Department of Music. Her self-titled solo album was produced by Centaur Records.