Blessed with “poetic and sensitive pianism” (Washington Post) and a “wondrous sense of color” (San Francisco Classical Voice), pianist Joyce Yang captivates audiences with her virtuosity, lyricism, and interpretive prowess. As a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, Yang showcases her colorful musical personality in solo recitals and collaborations with the world’s top orchestras and chamber musicians.
Yang came to international attention in 2005 when she won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The youngest contestant at 19 years old, she took home two additional awards: the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for Best Performance of Chamber Music (with the Takàcs Quartet) and the Beverley Taylor Smith Award for Best Performance of a New Work.
Since her spectacular debut, she has blossomed into an “astonishing artist” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung). She has performed as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Sydney, and Toronto symphony orchestras, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and the BBC Philharmonic (among many others), working with such distinguished conductors as James Conlon, Edo de Waart, Lorin Maazel, Peter Oundjian, David Robertson, Leonard Slatkin, Bramwell Tovey, and Jaap van Zweden. In recital, Yang has taken the stage at New York’s Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum; the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; Chicago’s Symphony Hall; and Zurich’s Tonhalle.
Yang kicks off the 2015/16 season with a tour of eight summer festivals (Aspen, Bridgehampton, Grand Tetons, La Jolla, Ravinia, Seattle, Southeastern Piano Festival, and Bravo! Vail) before commencing a steady stream of exciting debuts, much-anticipated returns, and notable chamber music concerts. She reunites with the New York Philharmonic under Tovey for a five-date engagement of Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain ― after an appearance last season that the New York Times called “…a sumptuous, powerful, subtle performance … distinguished by a variety of touch and color” ― and makes her New Jersey Symphony debut with Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3 in an evening celebrating the orchestra’s season finale and Music Director Jacques Lacombe’s last concert with the company. A sought-after interpreter of new music, Yang performs and records the world premiere of Michael Torke’s Piano Concerto, a piece created expressly for her and commissioned by the Albany Symphony. Showcasing her vast repertoire with appearances across North America, she plays with the Colorado Springs, Orlando, and Reading Philharmonics, and the Alabama, Anchorage, Corpus Christi, Greenwich, Milwaukee, Nashville, Pasadena, Princeton, Santa Fe, Utah, and Vancouver symphonies. A performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Melbourne Symphony in Australia marks yet another triumphant return.
Yang further demonstrates her diverse and glorious range this season with a string of laudable collaborations. She opens the Chamber Music International 30th anniversary season with violinist Sheryl Staples and cellist Carter Brey in Dallas; joins the Alexander String Quartet at San Francisco Performances; appears with the Modigliani Quartet at the Phoenix Chamber Music Society; and reunites with violinist Augustin Hadelich and guitarist Pablo Villegas at the La Jolla Music Society and Philharmonic Society of Orange County for a reprise of the trio’s widely acclaimed “Tango, Song, and Dance,” in which “Yang shone” (Washington Post) at its Kennedy Center premiere. She again joins Hadelich to record a duo disc (featuring a repertoire of Schumann, Kurtág, Franck, and Previn the two successfully toured in recent seasons) slated for 2016 release on the Avie label.
Yang’s creativity also presents itself through an innovative program of Albéniz, Debussy, Ginastera, and Rachmaninoff in a series of concerts in New York, Wisconsin, and Virginia.
Highlights of recent seasons include Yang’s Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin debuts, UK debut in the Cambridge International Piano Series, Montreal debut with I Musici de Montréal with Jean-Marie Zeitouni, and Pittsburgh Symphony debut playing Schumann’s Concerto under music director Manfred Honeck. She concluded a five-year Rachmaninoff cycle with de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony, to which she brought “an enormous palette of colors, and tremendous emotional depth” (Milwaukee Sentinel Journal); joined the Takács Quartet for Dvorak in Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series; and impressed the New York Times with her “vivid and beautiful playing” of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet with members of the Emerson String Quartet at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. A residency with Musica Viva Australia at the Huntington Estate Music Festival was marked by chamber music performances and solo recitals.
In spring 2014, Yang “demonstrated impressive gifts” (New York Times) with a trio of album releases: her second solo disc for Avie Records, Wild Dreams, on which she plays Schumann, Bartók, Hindemith, Rachmaninoff, and arrangements by Earl Wild; a pairing of the Brahms and Schumann Piano Quintets with the Alexander Quartet; and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Denmark’s Odense Symphony Orchestra that International Record Review called “hugely enjoyable, beautifully shaped … a performance that marks her out as an enormous talent.” Of her 2011 debut album for Avie Records, Collage, featuring works by Scarlatti, Liebermann, Debussy, Currier, and Schumann, Gramophone praised her “imaginative programming” and “beautifully atmospheric playing.”
Yang made her celebrated New York Philharmonic debut with Maazel at Avery Fisher Hall in November 2006 and performed on the orchestra’s tour of Asia, making a triumphant return to her hometown of Seoul, South Korea. Subsequent appearances with the Philharmonic included the opening night of the Leonard Bernstein Festival in September 2008, at the special request of Maazel in his final season as music director. The New York Times pronounced her performance in Bernstein’s TheAge of Anxiety a “knockout.”
Born in 1986 in Seoul, South Korea, Yang received her first piano lesson at the age of four. She quickly took to the instrument, which she received as a birthday present, and over the next few years won several national piano competitions in her native country. By the age of ten, she had entered the School of Music at the Korea National University of Arts, and went on to make a number of concerto and recital appearances in Seoul and Daejeon. In 1997, Yang moved to the United States to begin studies at the pre-college division of the Juilliard School with Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky. During her first year at Juilliard, Yang won the pre-college division Concerto Competition, resulting in a performance of Haydn’s Keyboard Concerto in D with the Juilliard Pre-College Chamber Orchestra. After winning the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greenfield Student Competition, she performed Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with that orchestra at just twelve years old. She graduated from Juilliard with special honor as the recipient of the school’s 2010 Arthur Rubinstein Prize, and in 2011 she won its 30th Annual William A. Petschek Piano Recital Award.
Yang appears in the film In the Heart of Music, a documentary about the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.