Plucking at the heart strings...


Kim Mai Nguyen, viola and Avery Waite, cello make up half of Third Angle’s string quartet on our upcoming show Everything That Rises. They’re also married and have a wonderful tale of falling in love and living a life filled with music and international service. Enjoy Avery’s post below to learn more about this fascinating couple, and check out MusAid to learn more about the important work they do across the world through music education. Oh, and make sure you watch this video to see these two rockstars playing the hell out of their own arrangement of the national anthem at the Moda Center. (Go Blazers!)

We met in 2008 during the New York String Seminar Program, a ten day orchestra workshop for young musicians that happens every Christmas in New York culminating in performances Carnegie Hall. We were both in undergrad, but at different schools;  Mai was at Juilliard and I was studying at Oberlin. After officially declaring ourselves "a thing", we endured one and half years of long-distance dating. At long last, we were united once again in New York, where we simultaneously pursued our Masters at Juilliard.

When I graduated in 2012, I decided to take a job teaching music in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was an incredibly difficult decision as I knew it would put a great deal of strain on our relationship, which at that point, was long-term and very serious. Against all odds, we survived long-distance once again (it wouldn't be the last time either) and I returned to New York in 2013 just as Mai was finishing her Masters. It was when I returned from Kabul that we first started performing together. Mai had asked me to arrange a medley of Afghan folk songs for her final recital at Juilliard. It was my first experience arranging, and to my delight, I found great satisfaction and creative enjoyment in the arranging and composing process. Happily the medley was extremely well-received and everyone encouraged us to do more.

Inspired and motivated, we continued arranged and before we knew it, we had compiled over thirty original arrangements of Afghan folk music and Indo-Afghan Classical music! Over the next six years, we shared this music in hundreds of different venues and even recorded a professional full-length album under the name Drifting East. We continued to add to our repertoire with arrangements of folk music from Iraq, Kurdistan and Lebanon as well as co-composing original music. Yet the music of Afghanistan continues to be an important part of our musical identity and is still at the heart of our musical relationship as a duo, always reminding us of our first experience making music together!

Third Angle