Amazing Asians in the Arts: Cynthia Meng
Cynthia Meng is a pianist and Music Director based in NYC. This Harvard educated musician has performed on Broadway on the Tony award winning show Hadestown, the Radio City Christmas Show Spectacular, and the upcoming revival of Company! Keep reading to find out more about what makes Cynthia an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Cynthia Meng
Hometown: Moraga, CA
Current City: In normal times, NYC – currently, Freiburg, Germany
Current Project: Company revival on B’way
What are some of your favorite credits/projects? Hadestown, Lempicka, Radio City Xmas Spectacular
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I’m obsessed with The Office. And The Bachelor. In that order, but also, I do have to admit that The Bachelor is a really, really, really close second. Ha ha
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Inundate yourself with art and be an active consumer of it. Listen to a shit ton of music, watch films, TV, read lots of books, watch dance videos, go to museums, etc. Diversify the type of art you consume, both in terms of genre and actual medium. To be a part of the arts community, even as a creator, you have to be a consumer of it as well (at least I think so). It helps you be a better artist (and human!)
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
I do some teaching work with Maestra, a nonprofit that aims to bring about equity for women in music (and specifically theatre). I love what they stand for and what they do – they’ve been offering a ton of technical workshops during the lockdown, and I’ve had the pleasure of both teaching for them and taking the classes. www.MaestraMusic.org
How did you get your start?
I did a lot of assistant work early on in my career – score maintenance, transcriptions, this type of thing. It ended up getting me into some wonderful rooms, and also allowed me to observe other music directors at work. That’s pretty much how I cut my teeth in the theatre world before I was playing and MDing more.
Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?
I think I always had an inkling in my mind that it would be cool to be in the arts, but I certainly wasn’t encouraged to go in that direction (career-wise) growing up, and I didn’t even know that music directing was an actual job until probably halfway through college. For me, “going into music” was either becoming a music teacher or a concert pianist, neither of which particularly appealed to me growing up. So when I was in school, I took an intro Computer Science course and loved it, and ended up taking computer science as my major in school, while still being very involved in “extracurricular theatre” and a cappella. After graduating, I got a job as a software engineer in New York City and sort of did a double duty situation (coding and working in theatre simultaneously) for a few years until I decided it was time to take the leap and go freelance as a musician, and that’s how I ended up here.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Learning how not to take on too much at any given time (I’m still learning…) – it’s bitten me in the ass a few times. Understanding that things take time and you can’t rush progress or be too impatient about career things.
Where did you study at?
Harvard (but not music, oddly enough)
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
I’d love to conduct on B’way someday. And then maybe, write a screenplay or album or something like that – create something of my own. Travel a lot too, especially when all this is over.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love how collaborative the process is, and how much it’s about human communication as well as technical skill. It really teaches you to be a good communicator, and to have a good sense of how people learn and want to be taught. I feel like I’m constantly learning from my peers and friends in the industry and I hope that continues, literally, forever.
To find out more about Cynthia, please visit her at: