Student Art Spotlight: Lucy Chen


Photo Courtesy of Lucy Chen

Besides playing multiple intruments, WCHS senior Lucy Chen composes her own music, with some of her pieces recognized on all levels

By Jeremy Chung, News Editor

Imagine sitting down and waiting to hear some of the best orchestra students in the U.S. perform. The stage is set, and the musicians are ready, but instead of an older adult walking onto the stage as the conductor, it is a regular student around the same age as everyone else on stage. However, this student is anything but regular, as this student is WCHS senior Lucy Chen.

As a pianist, violinist and composer, she does it all. Many people aspire to be doctors, lawyers or engineers, but it has always been about music for Chen.

“I started playing [piano] when I was four,” Chen said. “I remember clearly the first time I felt the power of music was at a summer camp in Kansas when two pianists played Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto. After that experience, I grew a passion for making music to inspire audiences as those two pianists had inspired me.”

Since then, music has significantly impacted Chen, and her music has been enjoyed locally and nationally. Not only does she perform in the WCHS orchestra and the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra (MCYO), but she is also a composer apprentice for the National Youth Orchestra. She has also been nationally recognized multiple times as a composer.

“One of my most memorable experiences with music was performing my own piece, ‘Water Interludes,’ with MCYO,” Chen said. “It was such a special experience to watch my music come to life from sheet paper to being played by musicians around me—many of whom are my friends. In general, rehearsing beautiful music with MCYO and WCHS Orchestra has been super memorable over the years.”

Although many student musicians do not have the experience of composing their music, Chen has grown to turn any ideas in her mind not into words but into notes.

“As a composer, I draw ideas from all sorts of concepts, from cultural themes to something as simple as the summer breeze,” Chen said. “For example, my latest commission for MCYO draws on themes from the Butterfly Concerto and my own experiences in China. In fact, sometimes writing music gives my brain a good balance as it forces me to be creative and make something out of nothing.”

Chen also likes to share her love of music with her community. In 2019, she founded a non-profit organization known as the Young Artists Music Society (YAMS) which teaches younger students music and hosts local recitals. Since its start, YAMS has provided over 40 virtual and in-person concerts and hundreds of free online lessons to students nationwide.

“I started YAMS after being heavily dedicated to volunteerism throughout middle school, so I wanted to combine my passions of playing music and serving the community,” Chen said. “The experience running YAMS has been so meaningful as I’ve been able to witness first-hand how powerful and important music is to a community. I remember at our first in-person concert post-COVID, a group of seniors came up to us and told us how much they enjoyed us reaching out to them both virtually and live to provide music. It’s experiences like these that push me to continue sharing music and spreading YAMS’ impact.”

Although she may sound like a full-time musician and composer, Chen is still a high schooler after all, and balancing homework, extracurriculars and family issues is no easy task.

“It’s definitely a struggle sometimes, but I’ve learned that I need to be in a quiet environment to write music, so I usually space out a two-hour block of time every couple of days to get in the mood for writing,” Chen said. “If I’m too busy on any given day, I’ll probably focus on my other extracurriculars.”

Over time, Chen has grown to take time off to prioritize herself and appreciate the opportunities around her and how playing music makes her feel.

“Music ultimately reflects humanity. From traditional folk songs that connect people of the same culture together to songs about empowerment that fuel your confidence, music brightens people’s days in ways that you might not even notice,” Chen said. “In general, appreciating life and the world around me makes me write better music as I can represent all of these emotions on paper.”

Even though Chen is graduating in June, she hopes to continue her passion for music as a career and one day live out her dream as a composer. As a musician, teacher and leader, Chen is off on the right track, making this Students Arts Spotlight recognition truly well-deserved.

“My dream career is to be a film composer and live in New York City,” Chen said. “I’ve always envisioned myself living in an NYC penthouse, writing on sheet music while sunlight filters through the window—hopefully I can make this vision a reality one day! I also want to continue playing piano and violin with college orchestras and various student groups because I love performing and sharing music with others. I’ve definitely found my life’s passion in writing music that inspires others, and I’m excited to continue growing my music career.”