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Making a Musical Difference

When Munkhtsetseg Ayurzana was a preschooler in Mongolia’s capital of Ulan Bator, her mother saw, and heard, something special in her little girl. “My mom tells me I would put different levels of water in these cups, and play them,” says “Mugi.” Her parents, both engineers, brought their daughter to the Music and Dance School of Ulan Bator. She spent 12 years there, studying violin very seriously while she watched her country struggle through the transition from a Soviet satellite to a market economy.

“Everything was going really hard. I thought, ‘First the economy needs to get better, and people’s lives need to get better. I need to do something about that.’”

Qualifying for a scholarship to attend UWC of the Adriatic, Mugi was delighted to study classical violin in Europe near the Trieste UWC. Next she became one of the first Davis UWC Scholars at Skidmore College in New York state. A junior, she’s focusing on international business, hoping to help build Mongolia’s export economy.

She is determined to make a difference on campus, too. “Last year, I served as president of the International Students Union. I really feel that international students can contribute to the community here. The UWC students at Skidmore are very proactive: We want to do things on campus, and raise awareness of what’s going on around the world.”

Mugi has contributed almost magically to the college’s strong musical culture. A violinist in the College Orchestra and in several chamber groups, she was among several student musicians selected last year for a semester-long collaboration with renowned pianist and visiting artist André-Michel Schub.

“Mugi is a supremely talented musician — and she has added a real international flavor to our orchestra,” says Music Professor Anthony G. Holland, president of the College Orchestra.

Dr. Holland recalls one concert that featured Borodin’s “On the Steppes of Central Asia.” “Before the orchestra played the piece, I interviewed Mugi live in front of the audience. She described the beauty of the Central Asian steppes so elegantly! The audience was enchanted, and the orchestra played like never before.”