Giving Thanks the NYU Shanghai Way: An Evening of Music and Connections

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On the evening of November 17th, the NYU Shanghai Education Development Foundation gathered together over 100 donors, students, leadership, and faculty to express our gratitude towards supporters of the NYU Shanghai community. The fall semester has always played host to such an annual gathering, but this year the foundation took a more innovative and collaborative approach towards how to best honor the scholarship recipients and the donors who make their scholarships possible.  

“The NYUSH Chamber Orchestra has worked so hard since its founding, that when the foundation approached me at the beginning of this semester, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to showcase our talents and hard work. Also, as our music program grows steadily, we have a few world-class musicians now in our faculty. Why not put them and present them all together?  I ran this idea by Prof. Dianna Heldman, who became very supportive and immediately started to campaign for the concert.” stated Yue Cheng, Clinical Assistant Professor of the Arts, and head of the NYU Shanghai Chamber Orchestra. 


Maria Montoya also remarked on the unique way musical education manifests itself at NYU Shanghai, “As an institution that insists on academic excellence from our students, we expect our students to perform in a variety of areas that stretch their intellectual abilities and deepen their ability to engage with their majors. This means that their musical practice and performance is all done on a voluntary basis, in very few moments of spare time. They choose to make art, and they choose to delight audiences, because they have a passion for their craft. And, as a community, we are better for having nurtured and appreciated their talents.”


Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman ensured music was not the only expression of gratitude of the night. Now in its 7th year, NYU Shanghai has three classes of graduates, all experiencing success in its different forms. “ Our success would not have been possible without the tremendous support we have received from a remarkably generous community of philanthropists…enabling us to create a true community of talent.” 

Not to completely throw out tradition, the gathering was still hosted by two scholarship recipients, sophomores Victoria Xie ‘22 and Ryan Hoover ‘22. Both comfortable on the stage, they helped create a lively atmosphere and shared their own scholarship stories.

Victoria recalled how she made her decision to accept her offer to NYU Shanghai despite the expectations from her highschool faculty and family to go to a more ‘traditional’ Chinese university.  She stated, “ the scholarship I received made the decision easy-- without it, I would not have been able to attend.” Playing both host and performer, Victoria joined her fellow Show Choir members during their renditions of “Baba Yetu” and “Come Alive”. 


Though the program showcased the talented music faculty, it was the final performance of the NYU Shanghai Chamber Orchestra that was the highlight of the night. The broad repertoire included pops, traditional western, and chinese pieces. 

Expressing his pride in the student performers, Chancellor Yu told audience members to take note that despite NYU Shanghai being a small university with just over one thousand students, the talent present on campus rivals that of a much larger institution. He elaborated that while there is no art major offered, the students’ performances were extremely professional, and that their repertoire encapsulated different cultures and languages. He expressed his sincere belief that the beauty of music transcends boundaries, and our students, who come from so many different countries, demonstrated that through working together to create such moving performances.  The night concluded with celebrations and connections between students, donors, and performers.


With the Thanksgiving holiday around the corner, it is with deep gratitude and warm sentiments that we wish all the members of our NYU Shanghai community a Happy Thanksgiving.


Some selected photos from the evening...