After a chilly week, we hope to warm you up with another interview hot off the presses! With our latest iteration of Music of the Museum coming up this Sunday, we interviewed pianist and MGED faculty member Dr. Jing Yang, who will be performing alongside fellow faculty members Christopher Sierra and Julie Castor in a program of music for piano, violin, and voice! She will also lead our pre-concert forum, where Dr. Yang will explore the piano music of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin!
Praised by New York Magazine as “…so young but so accomplished…”, Chinese-born pianist Jing Yang has been recognized as a soloist, chamber musician and ensemble player by audiences worldwide. As a recitalist she has given solo recitals in many countries, including the US, China, Germany, Russia, France, Spain, Japan, and Taiwan. She has appeared as a soloist with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Symphony in Japan, the DePaul Symphony Orchestra at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Center, the New Juilliard Ensemble at Lincoln Center, and the Manhattan School of Music Brass Ensemble in Borden Auditorium. In 2014, Dr. Yang performed as the piano soloist for the Opening Ceremony of Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, representing the Americas.
As a chamber musician, Dr.Yang has performed extensively with vocalists, strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments in many recitals in NYC, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, Yamaha Studio, and Abrons Arts Center. She has toured with her Juilliard Piano Trio in major universities and music conservatories in China.
TJ: What initially inspired you to go into the arts?
JY: I was born into a musical family. Both my parents are musicians. They always encouraged me to discover what I had to offer artistically. Growing up in an environment that is full of music and watching my parents perform and teach inspired me go into the arts.
TJ: Was there a teacher who made an impact upon your development as an artist? How did they impact your own work as a teacher?
JY: My formal teacher at Juilliard had the most impact on me as a professional musician. He was the most dedicated teacher and the most caring human being I know. I think as a teacher, you have to really care about your students and try your best to understand each individual because everyone has a different learning process. One teaching method could never apply to all. I learned that from my teacher and it has served me really well as a teacher myself.
TJ: What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?
JY: The most rewarding part of teaching for me is always seeing my students performing on stage. It is actually more nerve racking than performing on my own! But it always make me so happy to see those faces with satisfaction from sharing the music.
TJ: What has been your best experience as a pianist? Do you have a favorite recital or concert?
JY: I actually do not have one particular concert that I favor over others. I try my best to treat all concerts, big or small, with equal amounts of preparation and concentration. Sometime it goes really well and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s just what a performer have to live with. My teacher used to say, no matter how many people you are playing for, one or a hundred, always play your best. That’s the least amount of respect we can pay to those greatest composers who wrote such beautiful music.
TJ: The Music at the Museum concert will be chamber music for violin, piano, and tenor. What is it like performing in a chamber ensemble as a pianist?
JY: Performing in a chamber ensemble is all about incorporation into a team. You have to let go of your ego as a soloist and really listen to your colleague’s playing and communicate to the group through music. It’s the greatest feeling when you are inspired by your colleague and you make wonderful music together!
TJ: Your lecture at the Music at the Museum concert will be on Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. What is something most people don’t know about Scriabin? Any pieces by Scriabin you would like to recommend?
JY: Scriabin has not been discussed in history books as much as he deserved. Although recently there has been a movement of revival of his piano music by some great pianists. The reasons his fame declined are political, also philosophical, which I will mention in the lecture. He is a mystic, and planned on writing a piece that would be performed in seven days and nights on the mountain, which would end the world! Crazy? Perhaps!
Unfortunately he never lived long enough to finish the piece. His last piano sonatas are what his final project could have sounded like. Take a listen if you are interested in Scriabin’s mystical creative world! Also, some of his early Piano Preludes are the most exquisite music on earth. They are completely different from his late style.
Thanks for your time, Dr. Yang!
To see Dr. Yang in action as both lecturer and performer, come to our Music at the Museum concert, where she will be performing alongside Christopher Sierra (voice) and Julie Castor (violin) at the Zimmerli Art Museum from 1–3 PM in New Brunswick, NJ! This concert is FREE to the public and will feature chamber music written for piano, violin, and voice!