Senior Cindy Sang (BM ’23) has received the 2023 Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award. Presented by the Presser Foundation, the prestigious award recognizes exceptional students in music studies at dozens of institutions of higher education. One student is selected annually by SMTD faculty, and the award comes with a $4,000 cash prize for recipients to advance their musical studies.
“It’s a great honor to receive the Presser Award,” said Sang. “I want to express my gratitude to my mentors and friends at SMTD and beyond. It is our collaboration and friendship that inspire me to keep crafting a compelling voice in my performance and research. I am really excited to complete my final semester this fall and embark on more musical adventures after graduation.”
Sang is a proud first-generation college student pursuing a BM with a double major in piano performance and musicology. “Growing up, a couple of frugal hobbies – consuming CDs from the city library, listening to classical music radio stations, and browsing the local bookstores’ music section – really encouraged me to pursue these two disciplines at SMTD,” Sang reflected.
“As a pianist, she has grown productively, and she is a very steady and diligent student in this regard,” said Christopher Harding, professor and chair of the Department of Piano, noting Sang’s recent performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with orchestra. Harding praised Sang’s “extreme intellectual curiosity and gumption, and [her] energy toward serving others through her work and helpfulness.”
With interests in continuing on to graduate studies in musicology, Sang has also rigorously pursued interdisciplinary archival research projects while at U-M. In 2022, she was selected as a fellow of the Michigan in the World program; advised by Kira Thurman, associate professor of music, she co-authored a public history project titled Black Music-Making at Michigan that explores the intersections of Blackness, higher education, and music conservatory training. “Cindy is a musician and scholar of immense promise, with an aptitude for tackling some of the most challenging questions in music history,” said her musicology mentor Mackenzie Pierce, assistant professor of music. “Deeply committed to public-facing research, she is an exemplar of civic engagement and intellectual rigor within the university.”
Sang’s research focuses on cultural diplomacy, transnationalism, and Eastern European history. Speaking of her time at SMTD, Sang added: “One very special highlight was my petition to use Polish to fulfill the SMTD language requirement, which applies to both of my majors. The faculty’s approval was incredibly meaningful in enabling me to connect cultural studies concerning Eastern Europe with my music scholarship.”
Sang is also a recipient of the Young Musician Award from the Toledo Symphony Orchestra as well as the Amelia Kulesa Konopka Fellowship and the Copernicus Summer Grant from the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia. This summer, she is eager to complete internships in the fields of music publishing and museum education while living in Kraków, Poland.