Application: Yale Supplement
  1. Yale Supplement, Kay Cue, Chemistry, Yale 2014
    1. Acceptances with these essay(s): Yale, Northwestern (dual degree: BS chemical engineering and BM clarinet performance)
  2. Yale Supplement, Dory Fish, Biology, Yale 2015
    1. Acceptances with these essay(s): Yale

Yale Supplement, Kay Cue, Chemistry, Yale 2014
  1. Acceptances with these essay(s): Yale, Northwestern (dual degree: BS chemical engineering and BM clarinet performance)

It’s never easy to appreciate something unconventional. Just ask the people who attended the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, a performance infamous for sparking a riot, reducing the proud composer to tears. Even as a passionate musician, I had trouble finding value in any of Stravinsky’s avant-garde work; that is, until I had to play it.

The Firebird is Stravinsky’s other famous ballet, and the concert suite arranged from it is standard repertoire for any professional orchestra. I would often hear from other musicians how breathtaking and awe-inspiring the piece was, but whenever I took the time to listen to a recording myself, I could never get past the first movement. The theme’s variations were the worst: how could anyone be moved by random strings of notes being played in seemingly random places?

This year, the conductor of my local youth symphony selected Firebird as the main piece in our repertoire. Flipping through the pages of my part, I saw exactly what I expected: it was difficult, but completely lacking in musical sense, at least to me.

“Let’s start with Berceuse and Finale,” announced the conductor.

Expecting the outlandish atonality I had come to associate with Stravinsky’s music, I was stunned when the room melted into a calm string accompaniment and eerie bassoon and oboe solos. Suddenly, the string section burst into a chilling melody that would contrast with the dark, resonant, beautiful French horn solo it led into. The orchestra then joined together in an ascending crescendo that exploded into a majestic trumpet fanfare and finale, booming bass drum and all.

So this was the glorious Firebird I had been told about, this thrilling contrast of heartwarming lullaby and infernal frenzy and every other sensation of passion in between. I couldn’t help but smile: I had uncovered a gem of a piece from the deep trenches of my first impression.

Learning to appreciate Firebird led me to The Rite of Spring (no riots were started), and then to Stravinsky’s trio of virtuosic solo pieces standard for the clarinet. Becoming more familiar with his unconventional work has not only expanded my understanding of music, but has also led me to experiment with some of my own artistic interpretation. It’s not advisable to perform an atonal cadenza, of course, assuming my goal is to please the audience, but I do try to add some individual flavor to the sometimes stagnant pieces in classical music.

Even outside of music, Stravinsky has transformed me into a more open-minded and innovative person. I have come to enjoy other forms of expression: dance, fine art, literature, even dabbling in them a bit myself. I have learned to consider an unconventional approach to problems in math and science, often developing my own methods to achieve a desired result in a shorter amount of time. Most of all, Stravinsky has taught me to keep an ear out for the cacophonous and dissonant ideas I may encounter; who knows, one might just be another Firebird.

Yale Supplement, Dory Fish, Biology, Yale 2015
  1. Acceptances with these essay(s): Yale, Princeton

She wore a fluffy elf cap—powder pink, of course—and at barely an arm’s length, she already
sported wispy hair and delicate fingers and toes. Still, her puffy eyes seemed too big for her tiny visage,
which seemed curled into an eternal…scowl? Gingerly, I poked one chubby cheek. “Not cute at all,” I
thought disappointedly as I gazed at my one-day-old sister for the first time. In my impressionable
twelve-year-old mind, I’d always imagined baby sisters to be doll-faced angels, the photoshopped kind
found on Huggies boxes. So my disillusionment was expected, or so I thought. I would hardly
understand what siblinghood entailed until this “little bundle of joy” was long here to stay. Bundle of
joy, indeed. Well, joy is wondrously nuanced, I would soon discover.

It took a while, but my initial bewilderment dissipated in time as I eagerly—perhaps even too
eagerly—fell into the big sister and third parent role. At first, I wanted her childhood to be seamless in
ways mine was not. It was the little things I taught her at first—that Lego structures built with the
smallest piece at the bottom would probably not last, that the laws of physics indicated that bicycles
were meant to be pedaled or else they would topple over. I’d dreamed of someday dueting Brahms’
Hungarian Dances with my sister, and, caught up in my own fantasy, I boldly assumed that my passions
were to become her passions, my unrequited dreams and accomplishments hers, my perfectionism the
same driving force that would serve her as well.

But despite my “teaching,” it dawned upon me that I was no match for her individuality—or her
contagious mirth, for that matter. There is a certain unchecked innocence about her that could only come
from one who was not infallible and did not strive to be so. I could not help but be captivated by her
ability to laugh off even my sternest criticisms during a piano lesson; her carefree disposition constantly
reminded me, in an uncanny, transcendental sort of way, to trust in the world and in myself a bit more.
During the Perseids meteor shower, when my sister insisted on accompanying me in my childhood
hobby of stargazing, I could only laugh at her childish conception of meteors to be glittery embodiments
of “Tinker Bells” flashing across the sky. Yet as I watched her enraptured gaze fixated at who-knowswhere
on the horizon, I realized that for her, no idea is too far-fetched, no solution too impossible. With
this pervasive mindset, I’m able to approach ideas from a new angle, to take risks when caught in an
experimental muddle, to concoct unconventional designs in the newspaper. It is with this candid and
inquisitive mentality that I ask “why?” to questions with no answers, to be earnest, to live.

Because of my sister I’ve learned to love bread crusts, the ends of ice cream cones—and
everything else that needed to be consumed in her wake. Because of my sister, I bypassed moody
teenagerhood. Because of my sister, I realized the beauty and simplicity of a child’s reality.

And from that first day I saw her, I have not scowled since.