Student Reflections: Phoon Yu and Regina De Vera

Tuesday, Aug 06, 2019
Phoon Yu, Regina De Vera
Juilliard Journal
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Phoon Yu at a portativ organ in Singapore with colleagues look on
Phoon Yu performing in Singapore

Reflections on a Year That Could Only Happen at Juilliard

Students wrote about the 2019-20 school year for this digital scrapbook featuring recaps of artistic, academic, and social highlights, top takeaways, surprises, summer plans, and more. Keep an eye out for entries from other students and check out a slide show of photos from the season.

Phoon Yu

Seeing the extent to which my commissioning project of Singaporean composers took hold. People have been very interested in the great diversity shown by the works when I’ve subsequently programmed them in various recitals and they have asked for more information about the works or the composers—or even asked to learn them.

Organist Phoon Yu, who holds a C. V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship, will give recitals in Singapore this summer at Victoria Concert Hall and St. Andrew’s Cathedral. “Other than that, it will be, as my teacher Paul Jacobs would say, ‘Diligent practice!’”

Regina De Vera

Regina De Vera in a red costume, during performance as Little Red in 'Into the Woods'
Regina as Little Red in Into the Woods, Drama's first full-length musical in years, which was performed with an all-Juilliard pit band

Highlights of my time at Juilliard
• Breaking artistic ceilings: I got to play Mother Courage in Mother Courage and Her Children, Little Red in Into the Woods, an Asian American man in Queens Boulevard, Irina in Three Sisters, and many other challenging and expansive roles.

• Back home in the Philippines, I always struggled to find a place where I felt I belonged. But when I got to Juilliard, I was surprised to find people who loved me and who wanted to support me. Not only that, I found a community that saw and celebrated me. What that did for my spiritual, personal, and emotional growth was priceless.

Without scholarship support, I would not have been able to come to Juilliard. Money and expenses are real, tangible challenges that all aspiring students—especially international students, who can’t apply for loans in the U.S.—face.

Fourth-year actor Regina De Vera holds a Steinberg Fellowship

These pieces are adapted from a special feature that originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of the Juilliard Journal.