March 15, 2024

MSM Student Spotlight: Meet freshman classical guitarist Carlen Gong

Carlen Gong (BM ’27) is a freshman guitar major at MSM — he talks to us about his experience as an international student, how his freshman year is going, and why he chose to attend MSM.


Carlen Gong is a classical guitarist from Melbourne, Australia, and he began his study of classical guitar at age nine in Qingdao, China. At age 14, Carlen was accepted into Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, a specialized music school in Australia from which he graduated in 2022. He has performed as a soloist at esteemed venues in Australia; highlights include the Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the Plenary Theatre. He was also the recipient of the Melbourne Music Performance Scholarship and the Ivy May Pendlebury Scholarship in 2023.  Carlen is currently pursuing a bachelor of music degree under the guidance of MSM Guitar department chair Mark Delpriora.

What has your transition to living in New York City been like?

Carlen: Transitioning from Melbourne, Australia, to New York has been a significant change but one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The bustling atmosphere of the Big Apple and its dynamic environment really excites me. Compared to Australia, everything moves at a faster pace here, emphasizing the importance of productivity. There’s always something happening, keeping you engaged and active.

Fortunately, I’ve found support in the form of fellow talented musicians at MSM. They not only share my passion for music but also offer camaraderie as we navigate this new cultural change together. This sense of community has eased the transition, making me very comfortable adapting to life in New York.

How has your freshman year been so far?

Carlen: Freshman year has been an incredible experience. It’s been everything I anticipated and more. The faculty here has been exceptional. They are always there to offer additional support whenever it’s needed, going above and beyond to help each student achieve their full potential. What’s truly remarkable is their genuine concern for our overall well-being, not just academically but also in our day-to-day lives.

Carlen Gong performing onstage

Carlen Gong (middle right) next to Mark Delpriora (far right), Chair of MSM's Guitar department

What’s your advice for incoming guitar students?

Carlen: Make the most out of MSM. Strive to excel, eagerly seek feedback from your instrumental teachers, and remain open to giving and receiving constructive feedback from peers. Collaborate with friends, play together as much as you desire, and take the opportunity to enjoy making music with other talented musicians.

Why did you choose MSM?

Carlen: I always knew MSM’s guitar faculty has some of the world’s foremost master teachers. Also the teacher-to-student ratio in the guitar department means each student receives undivided attention to their professional development. The sense of community created by the staff and student leaders at MSM is also a key element to my decision; I noticed this prior to my auditions, when checking out the various student life posts on MSM’s social media pages.

“Freshman year has been an incredible experience. It’s been everything I anticipated and more.”

What are you currently listening to?

Carlen: Recently, I’ve been listening a lot to John Williams’ recording of Rodrigo’s Fantasía para un Gentilhombre. During my spare time, I never get sick of putting some Frank Ocean or Tyler in the background. Jay Chou is also a must-have in my playlist.

    Email This Page

    Email Message

    Page Reference
    (will be sent in email)