Blessed with “poetic and sensitive pianism” (Washington Post) and a “wondrous sense of color” (San Francisco Classical Voice), pianist Joyce Yang captivates audiences across the globe with her virtuosity, lyricism, and magnetic stage presence. At just 27, she has established herself as one of the leading artists of her generation through her innovative solo recitals and collaborations with the world’s top orchestras. In 2010 she received an Avery Fisher Career Grant, one of classical music’s most prestigious accolades.
Yang came to international attention in 2005 when she won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The youngest contestant, 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, Yang has blossomed into an “astonishing artist” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung), and she continues to appear with orchestras around the world. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony, and BBC Philharmonic (among many others), working with such distinguished conductors as Edo de Waart, Lorin Maazel, James Conlon, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, 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.
During the 2013-14 season, Yang completes her Rachmaninoff cycle with de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, makes her debut with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under de Waart in Belgium, performs as concerto soloist in Brazil, and returns to symphony orchestras including those of Fort Worth, Houston, Nashville, Melbourne, Seoul, and Vancouver. She plays solo recitals in Washington, DC, Houston, and Seattle, and appears at the Kennedy Center with violinist Augustin Hadelich and guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas in the multimedia “Tango, Song, and Dance” project. Other chamber collaborations include concerts with the Alexander String Quartet and Modigliani Quartet, duo recitals with Hadelich in Dallas and Los Angeles, and a residency at the Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival. Her busy summer includes solo, chamber, and concerto performances at the Aspen, Bravo! Vail, Sun Valley, Rockport, and La Jolla festivals. Spring 2014 brings the release of Wild Dreams, Yang’s second solo disc for Avie Records, with music by Bartók, Hindemith, Schumann, and Rachmaninoff, and she is featured on an Alexander String Quartet recording of the Brahms and Schumann Piano Quintets.
The 2012-13 season saw Yang make debuts with the Toronto and Detroit Symphonies, both led by Peter Oundjian, and her German debut with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Conlon. She returned to the Milwaukee and Sydney Symphonies, and made her UK debut in recital in the Cambridge International Piano Series. Yang also gave solo recitals in Honolulu, Melbourne, and Vancouver, and played chamber music with the Takàcs Quartet. Her performance of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet with members of the Emerson String Quartet at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival prompted the New York Times to praise her “vivid and beautiful 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 called Yang’s performance in Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety a “knock-out.”
In November 2011, Yang released a solo album for Avie Records, Collage, featuring works by Scarlatti, Liebermann, Debussy, Currier, and Schumann. Gramophone praised her “imaginative programming” and “beautifully atmospheric playing,” while American Record Guide called Collage “an outstanding first recording” and a “display of her wide-ranging talent.”
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Yang received her first piano lesson from her aunt 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 in New York 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, and she is a frequent guest on American Public Media’s nationally syndicated radio program Performance Today. A Steinway artist, she currently lives in New York City.