15 Questions for Deborah Pae


Formosa Quartet cellist Deborah Pae talks to Formosa violinist Jasmine Lin about music, her passion for cooking, and other subjects human and alien.


JL  What do you think about when you experience turbulence on a plane?

DP  I always think about if the plane were to somehow land over water, how I'd get the cello onto the floating boats. The cello is the thing that's on my mind.

JL  What is your greatest strength?

DP  I'm resourceful. And resilient. 

JL  What were you like as a little girl?

DP  I was shy, but at the same time I wanted to still show off. When I was just starting cello, my parents would have a dinner party, and I'd wait at the top of the stairs with my cello and wait until I could give them a Twinkle Twinkle performance. 

JL  What are the differences or similarities between solo and chamber playing?

DP  I don't see a difference between the two. There are huge similarities. It's just on a different scale, whether you play with 2 people or 80.

JL  I know you love Schubert's music. If you could interview him, what would you ask him?

DP  [pause] I'd want to know who broke his heart. When you hear his music, it's achingly beautiful. It just  it just breaks your heart.

JL  Which member of the Formosa Quartet would be most likely to survive in outer space?

DP  [pause] I feel it'd be you. You'd find a way to grow an organic seedling.

JL  Which quartet member would be best at communicating with an alien?

DP  Can it still be you?

JL  Which is worse, no more toilet paper or no more hot water?

DP  Definitely no more toilet paper is worse.

JL  Which of your non-musical pursuits helps your playing the most?

DP  I'm very passionate about food  how it connects people, its place in history, culture, people's lives. Planning the composition of a plate is like creating the perfect program. 

JL  Is there any food you would never eat?

DP  There are very few things I don't eat. I have a pretty adventurous appetite.  But nattō [Japanese fermented soybeans]... definitely not. Trust me, I have TRIED during many trips to Japan.

JL  I'm with you on that.

DP  We’ll see. My inaugural Taiwanese meal will happen in June... 

JL  Which quartet member would win an eating contest?

DP  Oh Wayne. Wayne.

JL  Not Cheyen?

DP  We should pit them against each other.

JL  Say you're in a beauty pageant and you're not allowed to play the cello for the talent portion. What do you do?

DP  Can I do a cooking show? 

JL  What would you make? 

DP  Anything I can flambe to make it look impressive.

JL  If you had to cook dinner for the president of the U.S., what would you make?

DP  My mom has this ridiculously amazing soba noodle recipe. It's top secret. I think Obama would be pretty chuffed with that.  


Jasmine Lin has had the honor of splitting Hoosier Mama banana cream pie with Deborah and looks forward to many more jaw-dropping adventures with her.