September 5, 2016

Meet Una Gong, new cellist

Una Gong
c Jee Eun Jang
The RPO welcomes new fifth chair cellist Una Gong, a New York City native. As a young woman, she attended the Juilliard Pre-College Division on full scholarship and served as principal cellist of Juilliard's school concert orchestra. She also has had the opportunity to perform as a soloist at Carnegie Hall through the Perlman Music Program. Most recently, she performed as a substitute musician with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. In addition to performing with the RPO this season, she is concurrently pursuing her artist's diploma as a fellow of the San Francisco Academy Orchestra.

When and why did you choose your instrument?
I started off playing the piano when I was five years old. I started playing the cello in 1995 when I was thirteen years old. My friend had just started playing the cello, and she began playing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" for us. That changed my whole life! I fell in love with the cello at first sight. I thought it was the most beautiful sound I'd heard and it just grasped my heart. When I got home, I begged my mom to switch my instrument!

Why are you looking forward to coming to Rochester?
My teacher highly recommended the RPO because the level of the orchestra is very good and it would be a great experience for me to start my career!

What fascinates you besides music?
I am interested in helping people who are facing poverty and disease all around the world. I want to make the world a better place. And, I think I am a good cook.

Favorite piece you are looking forward to playing this season at the RPO and why?
It's hard to choose one. It's a tie between Haydn's Cello Concerto in D (Oct. 2) and The Nutcracker! Haydn in D is one of my favorite cello concertos that has brought me success whenever I used it for auditions. I am so excited to hear our Principal Cellist Ahrim Kim play my favorite cello concerto beautifully. As for The Nutcracker, I used to listen to it when I grew up. It's just so playful, uplifting, and signifies Christmas!

Any advice would you give to a young performer who wants to pursue an orchestral career?
Love the music, feel your heart, and be thankful for being able to produce the most beautiful sound. That's what I had in my mind when I auditioned for RPO.

Anything else to share? I am looking forward to joining this season at RPO!

Look for Una onstage this fall, and read more about her on

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