Of the many performance opportunities Si-Yo has provided to aspiring musicians for over half a century, one of the most meaningful was presenting New Jersey City University students at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. “The award concert had a dramatic impact on them; it truly changed them,” says Min Kim, Chair of NJCU’s Caroline L. Guarini Department of Music, Dance and Theatre.
On April 27, 2018, Si-Yo presented the Sau-Wing and Jean L. Lam Award—named after two of its original founders—to the Department in recognition of its commitment to excellence in music education. Students and alumni shared the stage before an impressive crowd of delighted attendees.
In the following weeks, Dr. Kim had long talks with many of the students who had performed; she discovered that getting the chance to perform at the iconic venue had left an indelible impression on them.
“Many of them wanted to one day help others have that kind of experience by becoming teachers,” recalls Dr. Kim. “Others sharpened their focus as performers; they wanted to be on that stage all the time and were working even harder than before so they could do that again.”
Beyond helping students realize their individual dreams of being on such a renowned stage, the event demonstrated the communal aspect of music—its ability to bond performers to each other and to the audience.
“A colleague of mine once said to me, ‘The joy of music is the way it can communicate, so why do some people consider it a luxury? It’s actually a necessary part of society,’” says Dr. Kim. “I agree with that. Life without music is missing meaning.
“Our goal at NJCU is to help our students express themselves and communicate with those from different cultures and across all boundaries,” she continues. “Music—in all its forms—lets people know we care, that they're not alone, and that we’re experiencing life's adventures together.”
Given Si-Yo’s history of assisting musicians and aspiring musicians—many of whom are immigrants—Dr. Kim noted that the award concert aligned “perfectly” with the Foundation’s mission and history: Most of the students were first-generation college matriculants, immigrants, and/or from immigrant families.
“When they started at NJCU at 17 and 18 years old, never in their wildest dreams did they think they would perform at Carnegie Hall as students,” she says. “It showed them the life beyond the walls of this school. They will never forget that night. Some of them may become the next great artists of their generation, and they will remember that experience as a major moment in their musical careers.”