Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Andrew Chow Will Surprise You (Even if He Doesn't Think He Will)

Andrew Chow braves the mud at the Governors Ball NYC Music Festival
Andrew Chow’s black and blonde glasses tip back and forth on the tabletop. One moment they're on his face, the next folded up in his hands, then dangling gracefully over the small, café table at Barnes & Noble in Union Square. The rhythmic movement of his glasses continues as he talks about his internship at TV Guide magazine, his work on The Harvard Crimson campus newspaper, and his view of New York City—the place he calls home.

But then he pauses when it comes to a different question: "What would people be surprised to know about you?"

He can’t think of anything.

Hearing Andrew’s story, it’s clear he underestimates his individuality.

He explains how at TV Guide, his job mostly entails watching TV pilots. But if Andrew could choose an entertainment beat, he’d pick music.

“I definitely like music,” Andrew says. “I started playing the piano when I was five. I had a lesson every week, and I got really into it.”

A rising senior studying history and literature at Harvard College, Andrew’s in the Harvard Sunday Jazz Band and has played piano in the pit orchestra for musicals such as Dreamgirls, Hair, and RENT—a production where he served as the assistant music director.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Andrew said. “There’s such a strong community in the pit because you’re stuck in these cramped quarters, and you’re practicing with them every day for sometimes two or three weeks more.”

When choosing a college, Andrew first considered a small, liberal arts school where he could pursue music and writing. But when Harvard welcomed him, he couldn’t say no.

“It’s kind of hard to turn down Harvard,” Andrew says. “And I’m really happy. There are a lot of different niche cultures at Harvard.”

Andrew found his niche not only in the jazz band but at The Harvard Crimson on the Arts Board. Joining the staff required a semester-long application period, known as a “comp process.” After that, Andrew was elected to the board before he pursued a leadership position as Music Editor. While applying for the job, Andrew thought he was a long shot when competing against his friend Austin Siegemund-Broka, another member of the Music Board.

“I honestly felt like I was probably going to get placed as something else,” Andrew says. “But I got music and Austin got campus arts. So I beat him.”

Though “shooting” was competitive, Siegemund-Broka said he and Andrew became good friends through the process—even if Andrew still taunts him about his win.

“My first experience about knowing Andrew was when I had to run for a job against him,” Siegemund-Broka, a rising senior and current intern at The Hollywood Reporter, says. “And I had to critique all his writing in the most harshest way I could. When the whole thing boiled down, we became very good friends.”

Siegemund-Broka now serves as the board chair for the weekly arts magazine, while Andrew has returned to writing.

“I decided I wanted to write more and do a column,” Andrew said. “So now he [Siegemund-Broka] is in charge of arts, and I’m just more actively writing. It worked out really well for both of us.”

Siegemund-Broka recognizes Andrew’s desire to write through working with him.
“I’m still on arts, and I sort of miss editors like him who were so gung-ho about coming up with features that they thought were really cool,” Siegemund-Broka says. “He seems, to me, to be a little bit more interested in writing than editing. He’s definitely someone I see being a staff writer at any major publication he wished.”

Already this summer, Andrew attended Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island for a music column in The Crimson. His favorite thing about New York: free outdoor concerts. He’ll even be playing his own concert with his high school band at Sullivan Hall, a nightclub in Greenwich Village.

“My old high school rock band is playing in late July,” Andrew says. “We’re all really good friends. We always have one big cover song, but we write most of our own stuff.”

When he’s not attending concerts for Crimson articles or rocking out on stage with his own band, you can find Andrew at the TV Guide offices near Times Square. He applied for the ASME intern program to gain experience at a well-known publication and to live in NYC for the summer with his family, who reside in the Battery Park area. This time last year, he was interning at an English newspaper, The Santiago Times, while studying abroad in Chile. He enjoyed the experience—and writing everyday—but he’s ready to be back in the city.

“You kind of want to be in New York for the summer,” Andrew said.

No matter the internship or job, Andrew sees writing as the most valuable tool. Even 10 years from now he still wants to write. And he knows his dream job, even if he thinks it’s out of reach.

“In 10 years, I’m going to be 31—senior arts writer, New York Times? No. It’s, like, a crapshoot. Honestly, I have no idea. I hope so. I hope I’m Jon Caramanica.”

Andrew puts his glasses back on his face as he stands to leave the café. Now, the tossing of his glasses seems a habit stemming from his piano playing and quick typing of stories on a laptop keyboard. He may not think he's surprising, but that's because he'd rather talk about the music and TV pilots that surprise him.

By Haley Goldberg, University of Michigan, Glamour
Edited by Jeffrey Nelson, Drake University, People

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