Dawn Hui, MD // GDYO Class of 1993

Dawn Hui, MD began her career as a violinist, graduating from The Juilliard School where she studied with Dorothy Delay and Masao Kawasaki. After spending a season as a section violinist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, she pursued a career in medicine, completing her medical degree and general surgery residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She completed her cardiothoracic surgical training at the University of Southern California and is currently Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

What was your experience with GDYO? What years did you participate? In what ensembles and who were your conductors?

I started with the Dallas Junior Symphony under Michael Coren (late 80s) and GDYO with Richard Gianguilio (late 80s/early 90s).

What was one of your favorite memories from participating in GDYO?

I have several favorite memories! I remember cracking up at Mr. Coren’s jokes, and that one of his children came up to the podium and stuck a baton up his nose. I remember Mr. Giangiulio’s patience and kindness. I remember hanging out with friends backstage at the Meyerson. I loved playing chamber music with other GDYO members and remember rehearsing in the room upstairs at the Sammons Center. Most of all, I remember making great friends outside of school, friends who understood what it was to love playing and listening to classical music.

Tell us about your education after you graduated from GDYO? What did you pursue next? How did you choose the school(s) you attended?

I started at Oberlin College to study violin with Almita and Roland Vamos due to their great reputation. I then transferred to The Juilliard School in my junior year to study under Dorothy Delay and her assistant Masao Kawasaki and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance in 1997.

Tell us about your career – what have done since leaving GDYO – what you are currently up to?

Shortly after arriving at Juilliard, I figured out that a musical career was not for me long-term. I spent a year in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra as a section violinist; then I was recruited to spend a summer with a string quartet that studied with the Amadeus Quartet, which was an amazing experience. I then moved back to New York to take premed classes and freelanced during that time. After 12 more years of higher education (4 in medical school, 5 in general surgery residency, and 3 in cardiothoracic surgery residency), I finally had a job again! I started my medical career at Saint Louis University. In January 2019, my husband and I moved to San Antonio where I took a position as Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Do you feel that GDYO had an impact on your career? The path you have taken? How so?  

GDYO had a definite impact on my career. Through Saturday morning rehearsals I learned about discipline and working within a team in a structured environment. Now, as a cardiac surgeon, I am responsible for leading the team in the OR, and there are many similarities. Communication (whether verbal or not), flexibility, efficiency, and technical precision are all traits I use daily in my work. It also taught me to enjoy music as a social pastime, and I have!

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by my parents, Peter and Theresa Hui, who have been the most loving, supportive, compassionate parents through my crazy journey. They overcame so many personal challenges in their journey from Hong Kong to America to create a life for themselves and for their children. My work ethic and values come from them. We remain a very close-knit family. I was also inspired by my violin teacher in Dallas, Mr. Jan Sloman who is a wonderful teacher and mentor.

Are you still involved in music? In what capacity?

Throughout my medical career I have continued to play, primarily chamber music, which is a true passion of mine. During my premedical studies I joined the Bach Society at Columbia University, which was formed and led by Kent Masur. We produced and performed Handel’s opera “Acis and Galatea” in New York and on a German tour.  While in medical school I was concertmaster of a community orchestra in Mesquite.  Once I finished residency, I had more time and control of my schedule, and in St. Louis I formed a piano quintet with several other physicians, performing the Faure, Franck, and Schumann quintets.  I also formed a collaboration with the St. Louis Symphony – the Heart Quartet (https://www.slso.org/blog/index.php/2017/07/symphonycares-heart-quartet-pumps-life-saving-information-into-the-community/) – which was myself and 3 women from the symphony.  Our short program was designed to educate the public about heart disease, particularly for women in whom it is often under-diagnosed.  For example, Felix Mendelssohn and many of his family died of strokes, so we played the presto agitato from Opus 140 to demonstrate the acronym FAST for recognizing the symptoms of stroke.  Now that I have moved to San Antonio I’m hoping to connect with chamber musicians here.

What ranks among the favorite achievements that you’ve completed in your career and why?

Being a late bloomer, the answer is TBD! I really enjoyed reaching people with the work of the Heart Quartet. Much like classical music, medicine is often an enigma to the general public.

What advice would you like to give to GDYO kids currently in the program?

Whether or not you think you want to be a professional musician, put all your heart and soul into practicing and rehearsing. At the same time, learn to develop interests and friends outside of music. You never know where life will take you.

​Any hobbies? Fun facts?

As a newbie to San Antonio I am on the hunt for the city’s best tacos and tamales. Other hobbies include museums and reading.