/ Emi Ferguson ’05

Over the summer, Emi Ferguson, BYSO 05, Flute, released her second solo album, Fly The Coop: Bach Sonatas and Preludes, which debuted at #1 on iTunes Classical. She has performed at several high-profile events, such as the Tenth Anniversary Memorial Ceremony of 9/11, featured alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, and James Taylor. She has spoken and performed at several TEDx events and has been featured as an ambassador for classical music on media outlets including The Discovery Channel, Vox’s “Netflix: Explained” series, Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and various TouchPress apps. Emi was recently appointed Principal Flute of the Handel and Haydn Society.

Emi credits so much of her professional success to her time at BYSO. “(G)BYSO was so much more than just music. I learned about teamwork, how to handle constructive criticism, how to effectively communicate with my colleagues, and how to be both an individual and a team member at the same time. It was so rewarding to spend time with other people who were like-minded, and to learn from them.”

People who are in BYSO already have such a leg up – they have not only the skill and the talent, but the support system. I went to Juilliard knowing proper etiquette, how to behave in an orchestra, how to conduct myself in a professional setting, how to prepare for an audition, and much more. BYSO is not just music education, but general education as well.”

Emi’s album Fly The Coop features another BYSO alum – Doug Balliett, ’01, Bass. “I met Doug and his brother [Brad] when we were all much younger. We didn’t know each other super well at the time, but I am so happy that we play together now, so many years later! BYSO encouraged a curiosity and excitement for exploring different corners of the musical world in all of us – something that all alumni of BYSO can still continue to relate to, to this day.”

Despite being a very active performer, Emi is also currently on the faculty of the Juilliard School, and previously has taught at the University of Buffalo. “I’ve always enjoyed sharing what I love about music with other people. In particular, I love to work with people who are very new to classical music. Classical music has been lumped into one giant category, and you might hear someone say ‘I don’t like classical music’ but there’s so much variation within the genre, so I love exposing newcomers to lots of different classical styles.”

“I also want people to realize that music is for everybody. It’s not an elite, academic field where you can only have an opinion if you’ve trained in the field for a long time. Music is innate within all of us, and we have a guttural response when we listen to it. I want to encourage people to trust that internal instinct.”

Her biggest piece of advice for our current students – particularly for those who want to pursue careers in music – is to follow their passion, and to be true to oneself. “You’ve been playing this instrument since you were young. Some people continue on this path just because they’re good at it. But think about what YOU want – how do you see music being a part of your future?

“There’s no one right way to have a career in music, no single pathway – there are so many different ways to achieve success. Luck is a huge part, too, but you can’t get there without pursuing your passion.”

To find out more about Emi, you can check out her website at

Are you, or someone you know, a BYSO alum with a cool or interesting story or life update to share? Contact Jessica Chen, Development & Alumni Relations Associate!