MEET OUR MUSICIANS - Phillip Ong (VIOLA)

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At what age and how did you choose your instrument?

I started playing the viola at the age of eight. The viola was actually chosen for me because my feet were bigger than my brother’s feet at the time. He plays the violin. Growing up playing in orchestras, I was one of the few violist who never learned to play the violin first. 

What is your full-time profession and how do you balance it with other commitments?

I was trained as an Architect. My professional practice is in developing commercial real estate projects mostly in Los Angeles.  I’ve always had a hard time balancing studies and career goals with Life. Joining communities like the VCO has helped me find other focus and better overall balance.  

What does chamber music mean to you?

Growing up, I played in a quartet with my brother (second violin) and the Wu brothers, Albert (first violin) and Edward (cello). Our teacher, Joan Lunde, taught us how to share, converse and project the music among the four of us. I especially enjoy playing chamber music because of the intimate experience where each instrument has to hold its own and the sum is truly greater than its parts.  

What motivated you to join the VCO?

Aside from my daughters’ birthdays and my grandmother’s 100th birthday celebration, I haven’t played my viola for over 27 years.  Trying to find balance with my career, I’ve quietly wished for a non-professional orchestra of high caliber players akin to friends I grew up playing with. Last year, Albert Wu introduced me to Zain at VCO’s 2018 Gala Concert. Albert and Zain played together in the 90s in Mehli Mehta’s American Youth Symphony. I feel very blessed to have met Zain and to be part of the VCO. I will be forever grateful for Albert’s encouragement to pick up my viola again. 

Do you have any advice for young musicians?

Enjoy the process of learning and creating music rather than the accolades, competitions and orchestra chair placements. Most importantly, don’t leave your instrument behind for nearly thirty years.

 

Updated October 2019