DOB: February 10, 1987
Birthplace: Beijing, China
Occupation: Classical Pianist
Residence: New York, NY
In a world increasingly obsessed with pop and rap music, those of us who love and were trained in classical music worry that these spectacular works will one day become obsolete. Thanks in large part to the younger generation of classical artists like Yuja Wang, classical music continues its centuries long presence in the forefront of global music. Originally hailing from China, Wang has slowly but steadily climbed to the pinnacle of classical piano success, enamoring audiences all over the world with her signature style of highly controlled technique and quiet restraint.
Her character comes across as quirky and lively, demonstrated in her propensity towards jazzy classics. While she is also well known for her somewhat risqué fashion statements, she is equally as known for her profound love and dedication towards her craft, demonstrating to a new generation that classical music is not stuffy or old. This accomplishment may be her most influential contribution as a pianist, engaging a wide ranging audience with both her music and charisma. She is also part of an elite group of classical musicians that highlight the enormous talent coming out of Asia- a region once thought of as producing technically brilliant but emotionless musicians.
Twenty-six year old pianist Yuja Wang is widely recognized as one of the most important artists of her generation. Regularly lauded for her controlled, prodigious technique, Yuja has been praised for her authority over the most complex technical demands of the repertoire, the depth of her musical insight, as well as her fresh interpretations and charismatic stage presence.
Yuja is an exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon. Following her debut recording, Sonatas & Etudes, Gramophone magazine named Yuja the Classic FM 2009 Young Artist of the Year. For her second recording, Transformation, Yuja received an Echo Klassik award as “Young Artist of the Year”. Yuja next collaborated with Maestro Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra to record her first concerto album featuring Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and his Concerto No. 2 in C minor which was nominated for a Grammy as “Best Classical Instrumental Solo.” This was followed by, Fantasia, a collection of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Scriabin and others. Most recently, Yuja collaborated with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in a live recording of Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 2 and Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3.
In the years since her 2005 debut with the National Arts Center Orchestra led by Pinchas Zukerman, Yuja has already performed with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras including those of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, in the U.S., and abroad with the Berlin Staatskapelle, China Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala, Israel Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Orquesta Nacional España, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the NHK Symphony in Tokyo, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra Mozart and Santa Cecilia, among others.
In 2006 Yuja made her New York Philharmonic debut at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival and performed with the orchestra the following season under Lorin Maazel during the Philharmonic’s Japan/Korea visit. In 2008 she toured the United States with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields led by Sir Neville Marriner, and in 2009 Yuja performed as soloist with the You Tube Symphony Orchestra led by Michael Tilson Thomas at Carnegie Hall. That summer Yuja joined Abbado at the Lucerne Music Festival performing and recording Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and went on to perform with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Abbado on tour in China.
Yuja regularly gives recitals in major cities throughout Asia, Europe and North America. She is a dedicated performer of chamber music appearing at summer festivals throughout the world including annual appearances at Switzerland’s Verbier Festival. In March 2011 Yuja performed in a three-concert chamber series at the Salle Pleyel in Paris with principal players from the Berlin Philharmonic. She made her Carnegie Hall recital debut at Stern Hall in October 2011.
Many of the world’s esteemed conductors have collaborated with Yuja including Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Mikko Franck, Manfred Honeck, Pietari Inkinen, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Antonio Pappano, Yuri Temirkanov and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Last year Yuja returned to the Israel Philharmonic to work with Zubin Mehta, followed by a tour of the U.S. that included performances at Carnegie and Disney halls. She then launched into a three-week tour of Asia with the San Francisco Symphony and Tilson Thomas, traveling to Macau, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. Yuja again joined the Berlin Philharmonic’s principal players, this time with a series of all-Brahms concerts at Salle Pleyel in Paris. In spring 2013 she was presented by the Berlin Philharmonic in recital at the Philharmonie, and returned to Carnegie Hall in both recital and a concerto appearance with the San Francisco Symphony. Her season included a recital tour of Japan where she made her Suntory Hall debut.
This season the London Symphony Orchestra have invited Yuja as their featured artist in the LSO Artist Portrait series for 2014 which includes performing three concertos, a recital and chamber music in London, followed by a tour of China with Daniel Harding conducting. She makes her debut with the Hungarian National Philharmonic conducted by Zoltan Kocsis performing Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Yuja’s frequent summer collaborations with violinist Leonidas Kavakos are extended further as they will undertake multiple tours of Europe focusing on the great violin and piano sonatas of Brahms. She returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for subscription concerts and on tour in the U.S. with Dudamel conducting. Yuja also returns to the Boston Symphony, Sir Andrew Davis conducting, and the Cleveland Orchestra, Giancarlo Guerrero conducting.
At a young age Yuja entered the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing to study under Ling Yuan and Zhou Guangren. From 1999 to 2001 she participated in the Morningside Music summer program at Calgary’s Mount Royal College, an artistic and cultural exchange program between Canada and China, and began studying with Hung-Kuan Chen and Tema Blackstone at the Mount Royal College Conservatory. Yuja then moved to the U.S. to study with Gary Graffman at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she graduated in 2008. In 2006 she received the Gilmore Young Artist Award, and in 2010 was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Yuja is a Steinway Artist.