'Music is often best understood by comparison with other disciplines'

September 14, 2007

Sharon Choa strives to inspire young performers by giving them a chance to learn through experimentation.

The director of performance studies at the University of East Anglia's School of Music is determined to push back boundaries - not only of music, but of the people who perform it. Her efforts have been recognised in a book and National Portrait Gallery exhibition on inspiring women.

Sharon Choa founded the Chamber Orchestra Anglia, which grew out of UEA's outreach work with musicians in the region and which will be the university's orchestra in residence for the next academic year. Outside such work, Dr Choa strives to take music teaching outside the boundaries of academia through events that draw links between music and science, particularly genetics and mathematics. Concerts have also incorporated Oriental poetry.

In 2003, Dr Choa started a young musicians' scheme called coCoa to encourage talented young instrumentalists; its activities have included workshops led by conductors Sir Colin Davis and Jiri Belohlavek.

Explaining the philosophy that underpins her teaching, Dr Choa said: "What is important is that young musicians get to experiment and get to experience music making at the highest level. It's important that students, as well as studying on the programme, are encouraged to do interdisciplinary work. Music is often best understood by comparison with other disciplines."

Dr Choa was born in Hong Kong and raised in a multicultural environment before she came to Britain in 1985 to train as a violinist at the Royal Academy of Music.

She joins some two hundred other female role models in Zerbanoo Gifford's book and accompanying photographic exhibition Confessions to a Serial Womaniser: Secrets of the World's Inspirational Women .

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