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Seniors of CPS: Richard O.

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

Richard O, Senior — Interview conducted by Angela Wang

Monday, March 6th, 2023, 12:25: We’re sitting at the bench before the bulletin boards haunted by Mr. Tucker. I click record. “Welcome, Richard.” The interview has begun…

Angela: Alright, let's get right into it. If you could choose one song to play every time you walk into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Richard: Well, I’m kind of a classical music person myself, so probably not like a pop song other people choose. Yesterday, I watched the movie Tár. I liked it a lot, so it's been on my mind lately. "Mahler Symphony No. 5". I like the beginning of the second movement of it.

Angela: Nice. What’s something unique about you that your classmates might not know?

Richard: Well, people know me for violin, but I guess some people might not know that I also play viola. I'm involved in an orchestra called the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. And I made a lot of good friends there. It's been a good experience being able to play violin and viola because you can have a lot more opportunities to be in different groups.

Angela: Would you say one’s harder than the other?

Richard: Well, if you know violin, you know, I like to say [that] you know three-quarters of viola. You just have to learn the lower string and then you're pretty much good to play. Also, the difference with viola is like, I feel you have to work a lot more because it's a larger instrument. And there are, like, differences in the arm weight. How to create a deeper sound.

Angela: That's cool! Looking back at your experience at CPS, what is something you'll never forget?

Richard: Oh, I remember freshman year spirit week before Covid. This was in the fall semester. We had this like the theme of the day for the first day of Spirit Week was Mario Kart. Nintendo, yeah. So the Spirit Committee put together this, like, obstacle course race in the gymnasium. And they had, you know, the rolling carts with the four wheels. The plastic ones that people sit on.

Angela: Oh, sure.

Richard: Yeah, I joined the race and actually won. And so what happened is that I got like this banana trophy. Like, you know, they have, like, the Banana Cup and Mario Kart, so I got a banana trophy, and I still have it in my room. Oh, yeah. I used to play a lot in middle school; not so much now because I don't have that much time when I want to do more music, but I used to play a lot with my friends. And I still play from time to time here when people bring their Switches.

Angela: What are you looking forward to in the future?

Richard: Well, going to college pretty soon. So I think the thing I'm looking forward to the most in college: there's no commute. I live in Walnut Creek. And so it takes at least half an hour to go back every day from track practice during rush hour. And I think when I'm on campus, my dorm is going to be like right next to the music building and so I have a lot more time to practice. I'll just walk over. Also, like, my music building. It has lockers in it so I can keep my instrument in there all day and not have to worry about it getting in the rain or anything. And yeah, just being a lot closer to my friends. The thing is, I live in Walnut Creek and all my other friends live in Berkeley and Oakland, and San Francisco here. So it's hard to connect sometimes.

Angela: It's tough. At least a symphony brings everybody together.

Richard: Yeah, I don’t really have friends [there] from school. It's, like, extracurriculars, so different groups of people.

Angela: Do you feel like you have a connection with a lot of people at CPS?

Richard: Yeah, on like a class-by-class basis. And, most of my friends, my closest friends, either come from orchestra or from cross country and track. There are still a lot of opportunities to be with those people. But outside of that, you know, when I'm going home, I feel kind of lonely sometimes.

Angela: That happens to the best of us… If you could say thank you to one room and CPS, which one would it be?

Richard: Oh, it's gotta be the Music Room. Lots of rehearsals, lots of Zoom lessons, lots of preparing for auditions. I think I'm one of the only people who's actually practiced in every room including the closet. There's a closet in the back at the end of the hallway. If you're playing piano, obviously you can't fit in there. But for violin, you can put a stand in there and you can play in there. If there's no more room left and you're too lazy to go to the “N” rooms to rehearse. Pretty cozy fit.

Angela: I'm curious about your history with violin. What exactly is it about the violin that interested you when you started and then what motivated you to keep going?

Richard: Well actually, interestingly enough, I started with piano when I was three or four. And I was a little kid. And I was so active that my parents said I couldn't sit still on the bench. So they gave me a violin. So I could walk around as I played, which is nice. And it's not so heavy as a cello and you're not always just sitting down. I've always grown up with the violin. I think it's kind of unfair because violin gets a lot of the good repertoire. A lot of them get the melody in the symphonies and stuff like that and they get a lot of good violin pieces like concertos and showpieces to show off. Yeah. I also feel in a way it's kind of more intuitive than other instruments like piano. I feel like I still can't play piano. I've tried a lot but it's just not for me. I think I like violin a lot more because with violin you can kind of, there's something about playing with a string, putting your fingers on the string and using a bow to make sound, instead of just like putting your finger down. Placing your finger down on the tile on the piano is kind of like a static thing, whereas with a string you can feel the vibrations and stuff like that.

Angela: Oh, interesting. I never thought about that. The last question is what do you feel like you have accomplished?

Richard: In terms of music first, I'll start with that. I think during my time at CPS I've widened my perspective. I've opened myself up to a lot of new composers, especially modern composers, women composers, minority BIPOC composers, and stuff like that. And I'm keeping them in my playlists regularly when I listen to classical music. And I've also grown a lot as a musician. I've joined a lot of new groups. I've made a lot of new friends. In terms of other stuff like track and field, I think I've really solidified. I've been a lot more aware of how to be healthy, like how to maintain a healthy diet and keep myself from being injured. I'm happy to be one of the few people on the track team that's hasn't really had a major injury. I've been lucky going down hills and stuff and I tried to be safe like managing how many hills I go down. So I think that's where most of the injuries come from if I'm correct about that. And then academically, CPS has prepared me so much. It's called College Prep. Note taking, preparing for class in terms of energy wise. being an active listener, knowing how to ask questions, knowing how to study, and knowing how to meet with a teacher. Being open to meeting with the teacher was a big thing for me in freshman year. And so I think I've grown a lot in those three ways.

Angela: I feel like you just read your personal essay to me.

Richard: Well, unsurprisingly, my personal essay was all about music!

Angela: *laughs* Well, it was nice to talk to you.

Richard: Yeah, thank you! I've been looking forward to this for a while.


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