Yuga Wang Opens New World Symphony Season
by greg stepanich
It will be an epic night at the New World Center when the New World Symphony launches its 2013–14 season. Set to appear is one of the most impressive young performers in today’s classical orbit, 26-year-old Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang. Having already played with some of the world’s most celebrated orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Wang is renowned for her technical brilliance—which she will display here in Miami Beach with performances of George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F on October 5 and 6.
Adding to the programs for the opening nights led by New World founder Michael Tilson Thomas are Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, and the Four Sea Interludes from Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes, accompanied by a video created by British-based artist Tal Rosner.
Ocean Drive caught up with Thomas (or MTT—“That’s what I’ve become,” he says with a laugh from Madrid, where he was guest-conducting the London Symphony Orchestra) to discuss Wang, the upcoming season, and the joys of working at the Frank Gehry-designed house.
On Yuja Wang: She obviously has an extraordinary natural ability to play the piano. What would one call Yuja? “Hypervirtuoso,” I guess. But the thing that makes her special is that she’s a wonderful spirit. She listens so beautifully to what’s taking place in the orchestra, and that’s a quality she’s had since the first time I heard her. She studies incredibly, and whenever we work together, we have lots of conversations and rehearsals, and try out different things. She’s the kind of person who, even after we do the concert, still wants to get together afterward and say, “Okay, what about here and what about here? How could it be better?” She has that dedication to the art of the music, not only the way it is now but the way it’s going to be in the future. We’ve gotten into the music and really enjoyed doing that with members of the orchestra, who, after all, are all pretty much her age. And of course, she’s known not just for being a fantastic pianist but for being a very glamorous and fashion-conscious woman.
On the Concerto in F: This [is a] Gershwin concerto I used to play, and I loved very, very much. My family [the Thomashefskys, pioneers of Yiddish theater in the US] had considerable connection with the Gershwin family in generations back. My parents and other people who were around when I was growing up had worked with him a lot, and played the music and sang the music in a certain authentic New York, bluesy, Tin Pan Alley style.
The New World Center, two years on: The experience of being there just gets better and better. We keep discovering more of what the building can actually do, how far our imaginations can go, how satisfying its different spaces are inside of it. Also, the building is such a dialogue with the light, which means that it’s constantly changing. I’m still seeing new things, new perspectives, new little details. So that’s very inspiring. It encourages you to be alive and awake and exploring new possibilities.
Yuja Wang appears with the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas on Saturday, October 5, at 7:30 pm and Sunday, October 6, at 2 pm at the New World Center, 500 17th St., Miami Beach, 305-673-3331
photography by bill swerbenski (tilson thomas); opposite: ncpa/gan yuan (wang)