May 22, 2019

MSM Spotlight:
Accidental roommates Sienna George (BM ’22) and Sarah Lassiter (BM ’22)

Double bassist Sienna George and vocal major Sara Lassiter chat about their shared journey to Manhattan School of Music, and offer advice to incoming students.

The two women recently completed their first year as undergraduates and roommates at MSM, and will be roommates again in the fall in Andersen Hall. We spoke to them just before they packed up and hit the road for summer break.

How did the two of you meet?

Sienna: Sarah and I met when we were touring MSM during our junior year of high school. We were the only people on the tour, so got to know each other pretty well. Coincidentally, we ended up touring a few other schools in the city together. The year went by and we weren’t in contact, but when we got the email from MSM about roommate assignments, we both immediately recognized each other!

Sarah: I don’t think we ever expected to see each other again, and now here we are living together! We have different styles and majors, but we’ve learned a lot from each other, and had a splendid time decorating our shared space. We’re actually living together again next year!

Soprano Sarah Lassiter (BM '22) (left) and Double Bassist Sienna George (BM '22) in their dorm room

Why did you choose MSM?

Sienna: I chose MSM because of the environment and energy of the school. I love how MSM has students from all over the world, and the freedom we have here to pursue classical music in traditional and modern ways. Being in New York City, you have the world at your fingertips. MSM gives me world-class accessibility in the music world, but also fosters an inclusive energy that makes me feel like part of a musical family in a city that can seem very chaotic.

Sarah: I chose MSM because I was assigned to an incredible teacher, Ruth Golden, who I very much wanted to work with! The location of the school is perfect for me, and with an MSM ID you can get discounts on certain tickets, so you can see some of the greatest performers in the world at The Metropolitan Opera and other venues.

What do you enjoy most about living in Andersen Hall?

Sienna: I love the views! Depending on whose room I’m hanging out in, I can have a view of all the buildings downtown, the Hudson River, hilly uptown, Sakura Park, or Grant’s Tomb. I love the Morningside Heights neighborhood that surrounds Anderson Hall so much! It’s residential for Manhattan, so it’s more quiet, and has a collegiate vibe with Columbia and Barnard nearby. If you’re looking for a peaceful green space to unwind, Riverside Park and Sakura Park are very close by.

Sarah: It’s so quick and easy to get to classes — you don’t even have to go outside to get to school, which is great during the winter months or spring rainstorms! Living in Andersen Hall is also the best way to make friends at MSM, especially at the beginning of the year when everyone is new and eager to make the dorms feel like home.

MSM gives me world-class accessibility in the music world, but also fosters an inclusive energy that makes me feel like part of a musical family.

Double Bass, BM '22

What advice would you offer to incoming students?

Sienna: Freshman year is by nature a little tough, because you’re having such a big lifestyle change. This is our time in life to begin doing everything we want, and also take care of ourselves, so it’s important to align your actions with your desires from the start! It’s good to get out of your comfort zone, but do and say what you want. This year I developed so much confidence, and feel that I’ve really shaped who I want to be in a much more defined way.

Sarah: My advice is to trust in yourself and your musical abilities. When you’re thrown into a new environment where everyone around you is the best in their town or school, it can be very intimidating, but you have to own and enjoy your talent so that audiences believe in you too.

What are you up to this summer?

Sienna: I’m starting the summer by going on a cross-country road trip with my bass back home to Southern California. In Southern California, I’m doing a luthier apprenticeship (building/restoring stringed instruments), teaching private lessons, and playing with a couple indie/folk bands. I am also playing in the Bradetich Double Bass Masterclass Series at the University of Texas. I hand carve wooden bass, cello, viola, and violin mutes that I sell around the country. A large portion of my summer will be dedicated to further developing my woodworking skills. My mutes are currently used in the New York Philharmonic, the LA Chamber Orchestra, the Vancouver Phil, Charlotte Symphony, Rochester Phil, Orchestra of the America’s, and many more.

Sarah: This summer, I’m taking a German Language program with the Goethe Institute in Freiburg, Germany. I’ll also be traveling to the Czech Republic, Austria, and Russia!

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