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At 36, Yuja Wang switches to conducting without abandoning the piano

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) announced on Monday a collaboration with pianist Yuja Wang, the ensemble's new artistic partner.

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At 36, Yuja Wang switches to conducting without abandoning the piano

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) announced on Monday a collaboration with pianist Yuja Wang, the ensemble's new artistic partner. The 36-year-old Chinese artist will make her MCO debut by leading the orchestra on an inaugural tour in January 2024.

“We are thrilled to welcome Yuja Wang to the MCO family,” Orchestra General Manager Michael Adick said of the partnership. “Her passion for music and exceptional talent will no doubt inspire our musicians and our audience. We can't wait to see what kind of magic Yuja and the MCO will create together. »

The artist who ignites the international scene is also delighted with this agreement: “I am honored and delighted to become the artistic partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The MCO is known for its innovative programming, distinctive sound and dynamic performance. I look forward to continuing my exploration of conducting with the wonderful musicians of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, who I hope will create unforgettable musical experiences. »

This collaboration will, the MCO hopes, "bring a new perspective to our musical creation, with a focus on projects where Yuja leads the orchestra from the piano."

Born into a family of musicians in Beijing, Yuja Wang began playing the piano in China at the age of six. She left her native country to follow advanced training in Canada, then at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia under the direction of Gary Graffman. Her teacher remembers the singular talent of the young woman in 2018: “At the entrance audition, we immediately saw that she had great talent. She came to a class with the score, without having worked much on the detail, he explained to the organization Living the classical life. But the following week, she knew the piece and had integrated it perfectly. She was also able to play chamber music with any combination of instruments. »

In 2006, Yuja Wang made her debut with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Lorin Maazel. The same year, she won the Gilmore Young Artist Award – awarded every two years to exceptional pianists – even before finishing her training at the Curtis Institute. But it was a year later, replacing Martha Argerich with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as a soloist – at only 20 years old – that she broke through, in Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1. An exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon marks the beginning of his professional career in 2009.

After a performance in 2011 at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times acclaimed her: "She has it all: speed, flexibility, pianistic ardor, and nuance of interpretation. Yuja Wang then went on tours to the four corners of the world, with the Russian repertoire as her favorite field.

In the space of ten years, she recorded 14 discs, two of which were nominated for the Grammy Awards. In 2017, she was named Artist of the Year by Musical America, before receiving an Opus Klassik award in 2021 for her world premiere recording of Must the Devil Have all the Good Tunes? by John Adams, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

The inaugural tour of its partnership with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra will begin in January and will feature works by Stravinsky, Janáček and Gershwin. Yuja Wang and the MCO intend to focus on the great composers of the 20th century. Among other things, they will perform at the Philharmonie de Paris, where Yuja Wang is regularly applauded alongside conductor Klaus Mäkelä.

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