Student leader Dephny Duan on her first arrangement: “How Far I’ll Go”

Interview by Katherine Mumm, student volunteer

Dephny Duan, a cellist from CMC’s Young Musicians Program, took it upon herself to bring some popular kid’s music into the YMP’s repertoire with her arrangement of the hit “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. Dephny, with the support of YMP Director Alex Keitel, arranged the song for two violins, viola, cello and guitar. A YMP ensemble that included Dephny performed the arrangement at the Richmond Branch Library in March to the delight of children who attended the performance. The performance was followed by an instrument petting zoo and an information session presented by the YMP program.

Katherine: What inspired you to arrange a song from Moana? Was there anything in particular about the movie that stood out for you as inspiration for an arrangement?

Dephny: We (YMP leadership team) were planning out our repertoire for the Richmond Branch Library performance, and we wanted to incorporate a piece that younger children [could enjoy].  We thought that performing, “How Far I’ll Go,” would be perfect. The song was about freedom and and discovering oneself. Although the words weren’t sung during our performance, the power of the song was definitely felt while playing. The song starts out with a calm mood and grows with power and passion till the climatic end.

Katherine: What was most difficult and most exciting about the process of arranging a piece?

Dephny: One of the more difficult parts about arranging the piece was transposing the three voice parts into two violins, a viola part AND adding a guitar part. I have never played the guitar, but with some help from my cello teacher and flexibility of the guitar player, I was able to simply write in the chords….

By far, the most challenging part of arranging the piece, was learning how to use the program to arrange the piece. I’ve never arranged a piece before let alone write up music digitally. I learned that using apps like MuseScore definitely makes arranging and composing a lot easier and smoother.

The most exciting part was hearing how the piece sounded with real live instruments!

Katherine: How long have you played your instrument, and what has your experience been as a musician while growing up?

Dephny: I’ve been playing the cello for around four years now. I was first introduced to the piano at a young age. I discovered the cello in middle school.  I slowly drifted from the piano and fell in love with the deep and powerful voice of the cello.

I have and will always love music for its never-ending game. Whether it’s a piece with challenging rhythms, tempo, or fingerings; the thrill of learning and perfecting a piece is the best feeling and has stuck with me all these years.

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