NYU Shanghai Choral Department Records Alma Mater Tribute to Class of 2022 From Their Homes

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May 25 2022

The current COVID-19 lockdown may have prevented them from coming together to sing the school’s alma mater at commencement, but members of NYU Shanghai's choral department have found a way to blend their self-recorded voices singing “Lights of NYU Shanghai” as tribute to the graduating Class of 2022.

“Singing the alma mater as a graduating student makes me so emotional,” said Sonny Yu Yan ’22, an interactive media arts major and business minor from Hainan, China. “I never thought that this day would come so fast, that after singing for the commencement, I will no longer be an NYU Shanghai undergrad. The saddest thing is we’re unable to sing at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, because of the covid lockdown.”

This will be Yu’s second time singing the alma mater under covid-restricted circumstances–the first time was for the Class of 2020’s commencement ceremony, which was also held online. “I have become very familiar with the song, so when I was preparing to record, I went through the score again, checked over some places that I needed to pay attention to–like when I should hold my note longer–and then I practiced a few times before recording.”


NYU Shanghai Chorale performing at the December Music Concert, 2021.


“Music really brings everyone together,” said Clinical Assistant Professor of Arts Katherine Girvin. “With a chorale or an a cappella group, you’re working together as a team. The students have learned how to cooperate, motivate each other to be the best they can, and it’s beautiful to see what they produce.”

For Steve Sun ’22, an interactive media arts major from Beijing, the alma mater is part of the soundtrack to his four semesters singing at NYU Shanghai. “This song came out around the time I started at NYU Shanghai, and a lot of my friends were in the music video, too,” he said. “Seeing how every class reacts to and falls in love with this song is nice; it’s like seeing my own ‘child’ grow.”

The choral department–which includes a chorale and two a cappella groups–has doubled in size since Girvin joined NYU Shanghai in 2019, and students have had opportunities to perform around the city (most recently before lockdown, at Shanghai’s JZ Club), filmed an a cappella music video for an arrangement of “Mojito” by Mandopop singer Jay Chou, and have had their efforts recognized by industry professionals.

“Up until the lockdown, we were starting to become pretty well-known around Shanghai and were being invited to perform at different events,” Girvin said. “Off-campus performances bridge the gap between campus and community, and show what NYU Shanghai has to offer. It’s really cool for the students to see that their hard work is paying off and is appreciated by professionals in the industry, (as a group, they’ve received messages of encouragement from arrangers they’ve worked with) and I know they’re happy about the progression within the department.”




Listen to “Lights of NYU Shanghai” 

The alma mater audio recording was produced by Elena Dagan ’19 and Arianna (Luna) Lopez ’19.


Recording the alma mater and being a part of the Chorale has been a way for Yu to continue feeling connected to her classmates and to the school while dealing with the uncertainties and anxiety that have come with being in lockdown and adjusting to online learning. 

“Whenever I listen to the alma mater, I feel like I'm home! It gives me a sense of belonging, and I can always think about the happy moments that I spent with my friends. It’s like a weekly escape from my intense studies…where I temporarily forget about deadlines and just sing and enjoy myself with others,” she said. "Every time I gather with others on Zoom to discuss our next steps, I feel like we’re sticking together in this tough time. Chorale is like another family to me. I'll definitely miss this after graduating.”

“It’s been really rewarding working with the students, and seeing their community effort of keeping each other positive and keeping the morale boosted in this difficult time,” Girvin said.

“I hope my classmates can feel that the alma mater is always the anthem that belongs only to us,” Yu said. “I hope it reminds them of their happiest, saddest, and their most memorable experiences at NYU Shanghai, and I hope they can always remember it.”



List of contributing students:

Leon Ding ’22, Thomas Ge ’24, Huang Qiya ’24, Huang Zixuan ’25, Jiang Peixin ’25, Jing Shichen ’24, Helena Lan ’25, Li Binxi ’24, Louis Li ’24, Marco Li ’25, Caddy Liu ’24, Liu Yilin ’24, Lu Xiaodi ’25, Peng Tianle ’24, Wen Chieh ’25, Sofia Xiong ’25, Xu Yile ’22, Yan Yining ’24, Yu Siwen ’25, Yu Xiaochen ’24, Chen Sinuo ’24, Kelly Cheng ’24, Li Yang ’24, Ellen Owens ’25, Qian Xinnan ’25, Barry Wang ’22, Irene Wang ’24, Wang Jingyi ’24, Yan Yu ’22, Coco Hao ’25, He Peijun ’25, Hu Kaiwen ’25, Hu Yuyang ’25, Sophia Johnson ’25, Lui Tanruizhi ’25, Luo Jiayin ’25, Qu Yuanting ’25, Xiang Yuyan ’25, Zang Xiaohui ’25, Crystal Zhang ’25, Chen Siyao ’24, Ding Yinghong ’25, Echo Fan ’25, Feng Feiluan ’25, Feng Rouyi ’25, Huang Leqian ’25, Amber Kong ’24, Ambra Liu ’25, Qi Lemeng ’25, Tang Jiapeng ’25, Wu Ruoyu ’25, Xu Zihan ’25, Xu Ziyun ’25, Jasmine Zhang ’22, Zhang Puxuan ’25, Zhu Yuejia ’25, Zhu Ziyi ’25, Jolie Chen ’24 , Eric Li ’24, Li Qing ’24, Lin Yiwen ’24, Annie Lu  ’24, Mark Ma ’24, Jennifer Yao ’24, Aria Zhang ’24, Bao Yucheng ’25, Rachel Duan ’25, Ju Fenglin ’24, Amber Kong ’24, Kou Hao ’22, Li Luoran ’24, Jake Lin ’25, Cindy Liu ’24, Nathaniel Luo ’22, Steve Sun ’22, August Wang ’24, Xie Jingxuan ’24