In The Light – John Yao



Mollie Reilly

After splitting his childhood between Albany, New York and St. Augustine, Florida, senior John Yao knew he wanted to attend a university in Upstate New York.

“I looked at and applied to mostly art schools,” said Yao. “Colgate had both arts and music, which made it the perfect fit.”

Yao has certainly embraced the arts at Colgate. After taking a Harmony course during his first year, he continued on to become a Music concentrator. Additionally, Colgate stimulated his passion for art, leading him to minor in Art and Art History.

“Music at Colgate has given me lots of opportunities,” said Yao. “In one class, we studied seven Wagner operas and then saw a performance at the Met in New York City.”

Outside of the classroom, Yao can be found in a number of campus musical groups, including the Wind Ensemble, Pep Band and the Univeristy Orchestra. Fifteen years of piano and ten of trumpet have made Yao a valuable member of these organizations. Yao also works for the music department, which allows him to further explore a possible career in music. He is also involved with the University Church.

One of Yao’s favorite activities in his four years at Colgate has been playing with the Pep Band. In addition to having the unique opportunity of rallying the crowds at sporting events, Pep Band has allowed Yao to hone great friendships and travel to key sporting events in Florida and Michigan.

“I love the atmosphere created between the people in the band and the crowds at sporting events,” Yao remarked.

Additionally, Yao served as the conductor of the Wind Ensemble for three semesters, conducted a piece for the University Orchestra and conducted the Pit Orchestra in last semester’s musical Man of La Mancha.

Yao’s musical studies took him to Europe with the Venice Study Group in the fall of 2006, one of the highlights of his time at Colgate.

“We took an Italian opera course,” said Yao. “We got to see performances all over- Rome, Naples, Bologna, Verona.”

After Colgate, Yao plans to attend graduate school for music, concentrating in either conducting or composition. Eventually, Yao would like to teach music in a university like Colgate.

“It’s great to be in the college atmosphere, to never stop learning,” said Yao. “Try to get involved in as many things as you can. Leaving your options open can allow you to explore many directions in life.”