“This program transformed my life. It gave me such a great community of friends and it was really motivating to find this outlet for music, for creativity, and also this activity that I can put a lot of effort into and see the results payoff.” -Ashley Gong ‘21
As we celebrate the start of BYSO’s 65th season, we caught up with Ashley Gong ’21, a recent BYSO alum who now works with the nonprofit organization Continuo to bring classical music to new audiences.
Looking back to her time in BYSO, Ashley Gong remembers a supportive community of friends, a constant source of motivation, and a rewarding outlet for her creativity. Joining BYSO in eighth grade, Ashley played Oboe in multiple ensembles, working her way up to BYS. When music education became fully remote at the start of the pandemic, Ashley volunteered her skills to provide free virtual music lessons. Now, as a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, Ashley is grateful to continue playing music under the leadership of Federico Cortese.
Since graduation from BYSO, Ashley has been also working with Continuo, a nonprofit music organization which aims to bring classical music to nontraditional spaces through performances and lessons. Continuo was created by three BYSO students in 2018, and when the leadership decided to pass the torch, Ashley stepped up. Now, as Continuo’s President, Ashley oversees the organization’s recent initiatives, including nursing home performances, group lessons, and mentorship programs.
Ashley acknowledges a strong connection between her time with BYSO and her leadership role at Continuo. She states that BYSO taught her “not only how to be a better musician, but a better person, a harder worker, and a better leader”. And now, she’s applied these skills to even further her commitment to empowering young musicians and bringing joy to new audiences through classical music.
When asked what she would share with current BYSO students, Ashley encouraged them to “take a step back and think about how beautiful an organization they’re a part of—BYSO is not only an incredibly skilled orchestra, but the quality and opportunities of its programs are unmatched”. Ashley also recognizes that while so much responsibility is placed upon musicians at a young age, the experience shapes students into people who will always step up to take on the next challenge.
Are you, or someone you know, a BYSO alum with an interesting story or life update to share? Contact Jeanne Bedard, Development Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 358-6119!