Maggie Tsan-Jung Wei


Photo 1 by Matt Dine; Photo 2 by Ben Chang


Third Place, 2019 National Trumpet Competition, small ensemble; Finalist, 2017 Jeju International Brass Competition 

What is your earliest memory of classical music?

My godmother is a piano teacher so I have been listening to classical music since I was a baby. My parents also love classical music, especially Beethoven’s symphonies and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major played by Sarah Chang with the London Symphony Orchestra. They always played classical music at home or in our car rides, and I feel that classical music was a really big part of my life growing up. I would also like to talk a little bit about my first memory of the trumpet, too! My uncle (my mom’s cousin) used to be a trumpet player and played as the principal in an orchestra. I remember when I was five, we visited them one time and I saw him practicing trumpet. I asked him if I could play. Considering it was not easy for a five-year-old girl to play the trumpet, he let me push down pistons when he blew air into the trumpet, and therefore it changed notes and it felt like I was part of making the music happen. At that time I did not know that I would eventually pursue trumpet as my career, but it is definitely a core memory for me and the trumpet. -⊂iii⊃◁ ♡ ♫

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?

 I realized that I wanted to pursue music as a career when I started my Bachelors at a music conservatory. Seeing so many people that are all passionate about playing and creating music is really touching. 

How did you hear about TŌN? What inspired you to apply?

 I have friends from Bard College and they all really recommended this program. I also love playing in the orchestra but I haven’t had many chances before, so I decided to apply for this program to gain more experience in orchestral playing.

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century?

More and more people will attempt to use their electronic devices in the concert so I think orchestra concerts in the 21st century might have more digital or electronic components involved. Also with the growth of technology and transportation, I think we will be able to get to know more genres/types of music as well as attending concerts more easily.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My teacher in San Francisco when I was pursuing my masters, Mark Inouye, the principal trumpet of San Francisco Symphony, is my biggest inspiration. Two years studying with him not only improved my playing on the trumpet, but he also taught me how to practice more efficiently. The most important thing is I saw how a musician should treat music and others respectfully.

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most?

I personally really love Beethoven piano sonatas. I started to play piano when I was four and Beethoven piano sonatas accompanied me for a really long time. Even though I am not pursuing my career as a professional pianist, listening to those piano sonatas always makes me feel like I am back in my comfort zone.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it?

 I do not really have a favorite piece of music, it changes over time. However, The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky has been my favorite for a while. I really love the colorful and mysterious harmony with the rich and complex rhythm throughout the whole piece. Also, I love how Stravinsky composed this piece in a time when people had not had this kind of “new music experience” yet.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician?

Performing with the Boston Brass Quintet in my junior year in undergrad was definitely one of the best experiences in my life as a musician so far. Another one is being part of the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra for their Mahler Symphony No. 8 performance conducted by Lan Shui back in 2017.

What is some advice you would give to your younger self?

PRACTICE MORE! But also enjoy life more! Just focus on what you need to do, one thing at a time, you will get past everything eventually. 

Favorite non-classical musician or band

I used to be a fan of Pentatonix until Avi Kaplan (the bass singer) left the group. 🙁

If you could play another instrument, what would it be?

Percussion. I think it is really cool for them to be able to play so many different instruments and I love seeing them switch places and instruments during the concert.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to?

Japan, especially Tokyo! I love how convenient it is to travel there as well as their culture and food. Oh and I love Tokyo Disneyland! 

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us

I used to play piano and I still occasionally accompany my friends in their recitals or juries. Besides that, I used to play double bass for two years and went to string ensemble competitions as a double bass player!

Piece of advice for a young classical musician

Pursuing music as a career might feel stressful and alone in your path sometimes, but believe me, we will all see the light in the end!