[Oct. 2016 Arts] First place flute star shines bright

By Melanie Lust  ’19


When Cece Hong ‘18 entered the first round of the American Chamber Orchestra’s concerto competition, she never imagined that she would win the elite tournament.

But earlier this year, she did just that.

“The first round, I thought I did really poorly,” she said. “But [I] ended up picking myself back up, and I got better as I went along.”

She added that the experience meant more to her than just a prize. “It was a big landmark for me, because I always have trouble playing in big crowds,” Hong said. “It was kind of a way for me to forcefully get over my fear, which made me more willing to do more competitions and perform in front of people in the future.”

Hong has played flute since the second grade, where she recalls resorting to music after not finding an alternative hobby in sports. “I went to the music store and picked up the shiniest thing I could find, which was the flute,” she said.

And years later, it seems that the real shining star has been Hong. She studied at Boston’s Tanglewood Flute Workshop, was selected to perform in the Connecticut All State Concert Band and played in Gary Schocker’s Flute Master Class.

But Hong says that although participating in these ensembles constantly pressures her to keep improving, playing the flute is an enormous stress reliever.

“It’s like a way for me to keep in touch with a more relaxed, more artistic version of myself,” Hong said.

To embolden her artistic side, Hong turns to famous flautists like Jasmine Choi for inspiration. As they are both Korean women, Hong said she hopes to emulate Choi’s attitude and prowess. “It’s empowering to see another Asian woman dominating a stage,” she said.

For now, Hong is content with her high seat in the Norwalk Youth Symphony, where last year she was also a finalist in their concerto competition. As for the future, she says flute playing is something she’d like to pursue  in adulthood.

“I’d like to continue even as a college student and an adult. I don’t know if I want to major because I do have other interests, and it’s kind of something that I use to offset my academics. But I really do love it,” Hong said. “It’s something that’s been with me for almost my whole life. If I can do something with it in the future, then I’d love that.”