Pediatrician’s musical voice inspires thousands at Children's Orchestra Society

Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma is a violin virtuoso and pediatrician, but many say her greatest talent is inspiring generations of young musicians on Long Island.

News 12 Staff

May 31, 2021, 10:49 AM

Updated 1,149 days ago


For nearly 40 years, Yeou-Cheng's musical voice has inspired thousands of youngsters of the Children's Orchestra Society.
She's the executive director of COS, teaching violin, viola and chamber music to children at rehearsal halls in Manhasset and Syosset.
The nonprofit organization was founded by her father, Dr. Hiao-Tsiun Ma in 1962. Its mission is to teach children the language of music. “My dad always said 'Music is a like a language,’ and so you don't really teach a child a language. The only way a child learns language is by listening and reacting to it,” says Dr. Ma.
Born in Paris to Chinese parents, Yeou-Cheng began learning the language of music before she could walk. The violin prodigy was playing classical pieces by the time she was 3 years old. At 10, Yeou-Cheng performed Mendelson's Concerto with the Denver Symphony.
At 11, she performed with her younger brother, Yo-Yo Ma,  at the American Pageant for the Arts in 1962. President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline were among the honored guests.
While Yo-Yo grew up to be a world renown cellist, Yeou-Cheng graduated from Harvard Medical School and became Dr. Ma, pediatrician.
But the love of the strings never left her heart. In 1984, Yeou-Cheng took over the reins of COS after her father retired. “I try to explain to my students, I say you know the notes are your friends. Just like your friends, you have to spend some time with your friends and then you become better friends.” Yeou-Cheng's husband, Michael Dadap, is the orchestra's conductor. “We are very diverse and we are open to everybody and all you have to do is walk in, and you have a chance to learn,” says Dadap. “We want them to enjoy music. And we hope that they acquire some skills also so they can progress in the voyage, the adventure of music,” adds Dr. Ma.
Over the years, about 2,000 students have studied with COS. For many, the experience served as a prelude to fulfilling musical careers.
Brad Bosenbeck was 12 when he joined COS. Today, he is a conductor and musical director on Broadway. “I'm so in love with my musical life and COS played a huge part in helping me shape who I am to be able to flourish and do that today, says Bosenbeck, of Deer Park.
Kevin Shue was a 15-year-old immigrant from Korea who spoke no English when he started with COS. Shue now performs at Carnegie Hall and teaches music at COS. “They were absolutely encouraging, inspiring. I couldn't ask for a better mentor.” “We're proud of them as if they were our own children,” says Dr. Ma.
She says it’s her way of continuing a family legacy and bringing the joy of music to future generations. The Children's Orchestra Society also offers opportunities for young members to perform at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. To learn more about COS, click here.

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