Infinite Interpretations

Music or Medicine? Why not do both? UO sophomore Dylan Nguyen can’t imagine choosing one over the other. 

By Barbara Harris

A 19-year-old double major studying music and pre-med, Dylan knows it takes perseverance to find ways to study one’s interests but is also aware it can also lead to new discoveries and opportunities. 
His reason to pursue two majors originates from his desire to use his knowledge to better people’s lives and make a difference. He sees both music and science as a way to achieve this aspiration. “I love being fully immersed in both fields,” says Dylan. “Every day I have my Organic Chemistry homework and I practice my piano, and they are drastically different worlds. In science, there is always only one answer but with music, there are infinite interpretations of the same piece. I love that contrast and balance and am grateful to experience it every day.”

Dylan describes himself as a Romantic-era pianist, as this period captures his soul and personality best. His favorite composers are Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt. He states that “Liszt’s pieces have such virtuosity, power, and explosivity and are so gratifying to perform; and Chopin’s lyrism and ability to imitate a singer’s voice touch me in ways I can’t express with words.” He also finds inspiration from many of today’s contemporary pianists including Nikolai Lugansky, Martha Argerich, and Dmitri Shishkin.
Over the years, Dylan has received numerous music awards, including second prize in the Eugene Symphony Guild Young Artist Competition. Dylan has studied classical piano for thirteen years, the last two with SOMD Professor of Piano, Dr. Alexandre Dossin, and prior with retired concert pianist and now Portland-based instructor, Barbara Parker. 
When describing Dylan and his aptitude, Dossin says, “I like to teach pianists who have an innate passion for music, and Dylan is one of those. He loves performing and practicing and is willing to do all the hard work that goes into learning a piece. His careful attention to detail allows him to achieve a high level of expertise. I find that one of the best parts of being a teacher is when something I’ve said or demonstrated resonates with a student. This happens often with Dylan—it’s wonderful when he feels it and hears it and then his eyes light up.”
Dylan has great fondness and respect for both his current and former teacher. He credits Dossin for his decision to attend the University of Oregon. Dylan also appreciates the freedom Dossin gives students to select their repertoire and his ability to challenge him and strive for greatness. Parker provided him with his technical foundation in music. He was required to do scales and arpeggios every lesson, every week for several years. “Without this foundation,” he says “I wouldn’t be the pianist I am today.” 
In addition to his piano and pre-med coursework, Dylan sings for the SOMD Chamber Choir under the direction of Dr. Sharon Paul and is working on a Beethoven Trio with Dr. David Riley. “Piano is, by definition, a powerful and solitary instrument that provides me with an individualized and intimate experience,” says Dylan. “Singing in a choir and playing in a chamber group allows me to experience music in a more connected and collaborative way.”
Outside of piano study, Dylan is interested in optometry and hopes to job-shadow an optometry clinic this summer in addition to taking classes. Following graduation, Dylan’s plan for the future is to pursue both passions, although he knows it will be a challenge. Dylan reflected on a recent conversation he had with Dossin on how science helps heal the body and music helps heals the soul. This philosophy continues to resonate with Dylan as he strives to connect his two distinctive and special worlds.