One of the first musicians I am meeting at the Juilliard cafeteria after the long summer months is the young pianist, Xiayin Wang.
It was composer Sean Hickey, who drew my attention to this rising star. “She is phenomenal, and you ought to meet her”, he said when I met him in his role as business development manager for Naxos America (see also: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/sean-hickey-talks-about-naxos-a/
As I sit down with Wang, we talk about musicians we both know personally. And then it dawns on me: I had actually been present when Manhattan School of Music – trained Wang gave one of the most memorable performances of her career back in 2006, at Alice Tully Hall in New York City.
Her parents were in town and attending the concert, and so she asked her father, a professional Erhu player, to share the stage with her. “Celebrating our new life” was the title of a traditional Chinese folksong she performed with him as an encore to her concert program. It was hard to tell who had been more moved by this joint performance – the audience, or the father-daughter team.
“He was so nervous, and I was on fire”, smiles Wang as she remembers that very special evening. “In fact, at one point I thought I saw smoke coming up from stage, but it was just the dust of the resin that my father had applied too generously to the strings of his instrument, to make the sound very smooth sounding”.
And so the title of the Chinese folksong she performed that night became the motto of her career as a professional musician – a very fine beginning of a new life, indeed, and a celebration of a career taking off with tremendous energy.
Training at the Shanghai Conservatory from age 5, her mother devoted all her time watching over little Xiayin’s piano practice. Today, her daughter appreciates the benefits of her rigorous and disciplined early training.
Says Wang in a November 2007 Fanfare interview: “As a kid, you are not going to have that discipline, no matter how much you love music. The parents, the teacher have to sit next to you. My mom took notes every single lesson. I still have those notes”. Read the rest of this entry »