Theatre Faculty Feature: Yan Pang, Composer, Performer and Scholar
"At Point Park University, I envision myself as a stepping stone for the groundbreaking artists in the theatre department in the Conservatory of Performing Arts. I believe that my initiative, energy for innovation and enthusiasm will aid in students’ learning of music."
Tell us about your work as a composer, performer and scholar.
My career is dedicated to composing and performing music for theatrical work. My mission is to enrich the students’ skills of musical theatre by helping them hone their artistic vision.
I received my Ph.D. in music composition, with a minor in theatre arts at the University of Minnesota. My relationship between teaching and musical production is dynamic and synthesizes my scholarly research and creative agendas.
In my practice, I see that interdisciplinary collaboration enriches practitioners’ abilities to overcome barriers and obstacles. As a result, I published my textbooks, including, Cool Math for Hot Music, All About Music and Basic Music Technology (co-authored with Guerino Mazzola et. al by Springer).
What factors made you choose to teach in the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University?
At Point Park, I envision myself as a stepping stone for the groundbreaking artists in the theatre department in the Conservatory of Performing Arts. I believe that my initiative, energy for innovation and enthusiasm will aid in students’ learning of music.
I have enjoyed teaching graduate and undergraduate music composition, sight-singing, music theory, musicianship and piano. I teach these courses through the frame of understanding the world with well-rounded music knowledge and skills that can be applicable to music theatre. By emphasizing the importance of incorporating students’ cultural backgrounds into their coursework, I have been a central agent in enacting a student-focused teaching culture.
How do you incorporate your professional experiences into the classes you teach?
As the artistic director of Yan Pang Create, LLC, I am dedicated to supporting marginalized art forms and their creators. In this capacity, I have taken the lead in preparing young artists from school programs to the industry.
At the University of Minnesota and St. Olaf College, I taught and guided music composition students through collaboration with the dance composition projects. These theatrical performances gave students a sense of agency in their collaborations.
I am thrilled to share these experiences and expertise with students at Point Park through their core music courses, such as music and theory analysis, sight-singing, piano and composition, to support them through their professional career. Across my teaching, I emphasize the interdisciplinary component between music, theatre and dance.
What advice do you have for prospective theatre majors?
My advice for theatre majors is to always let your creativity show through your work, as well as take pride in your heritage and your uniqueness as a strength. As a first-generation immigrant from China, I have had the joy of seeing the beauty in different cultures.
As a result, I encourage everyone to explore all cultural differences and similarities, as well as to create an inclusive institutional environment that supports all students’ success in their professional development. The classroom space has the ability to develop a respectful and trusting community with supportive advising and mentoring to encourage students to learn from each other.