Featured Drone: Mimi Yu '08
As a cellist in New York, I was struck recently by the words of Junot Díaz, the Dominican-American author. “We are artists,” he told an audience of writers. “We never really fit in anywhere.”
And maybe that is true. Even after performing at Lincoln Center or the Metropolitan Museum, even when prestigious critics write favorable reviews, even after graduating from Juilliard, I find myself pondering the purpose of the arts. What does “making it” really entail? What am I trying to prove to myself? Do my performances, whether as a soloist for Tan Dun or for Carnegie Hall, bring meaning to the world?
For an artist, those moments of validation are precious and fleeting, and I tuck them away deep in my heart. I remember the time, for instance, when I played with Itzhak Perlman to commemorate September 11th at Ground Zero. During the slow movement of Beethoven's Serenade in D minor, I felt the pain of family members palpitating through each phrase, their tears and smiles weaving in and out of the sounds. I remember when the music ended, it seemed for a brief second that the mourning had ceased, that the suffering inflicted upon them had risen into the air with the music.
That same sense of meaning has come at more lighthearted moments. I remember a little girl asking me during a lesson if she could dress up as a cello for Halloween. I remember the young boy at an inner-city outreach concert who exclaimed to the entire auditorium after I gave him tips on bow posture, “Wow, now I finally feel like I can call myself a celloist!”
At other times, my feelings of affirmation have brought me back to my time at the Signet. Recently, I produced a concert at the United Nations involving musicians from 12 countries. As the cacophony of languages blended into a unified voice, I remembered the panoply of art forms that came together at 46 Dunster Street: impromptu cabaret shows, film screenings, poetry readings. At the Signet, we made a home for young creative minds that yearned for the arts. Beyond the Signet, we are making a home for a world that hungers for the arts.