Carnegie Hall opportunity excites Chinese violinist

Updated 2017-03-16 17:00:55 China Daily
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Wang Jiazhi will hold her first recital at Carnegie Hall later in March.

Carnegie Hall is about a 25-minute walk from Wang Jiazhi's apartment. It's a favorite place to visit for the Chinese violinist, who has watched recitals there many times.

On March 28, the 26-year-old will perform at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in front of nearly 300 people.

“It will be the first recital I give at the Carnegie Hall, and means so much to me,” says Wang, who has performed as a chamber musician at the venue. “When I rehearse at Carnegie Hall, I would picture how I perform onstage and become nervous facing the empty seats. But when I perform in front of audiences, especially a full house, I feel very comfortable and happy.”

Wang, who earned a master's degree in violin from Yale School of Music in 2016, regards the recital as a capstone for her time at Yale.

“The program list not only shows my musical ideas but also reflects who I am,” says Wang, who will perform pieces including Beethoven's Violin Sonata No 3 in E-flat major, which has a light and happy mood, and Ravel's Violin Sonata No 2, which is influenced by jazz and blues.

She will also perform Tchaikovsky's Valse-Scherzo in C major, which won the violinist second place in the 2015 Washington International Competition For Strings.

In honor of her teacher, Chinese-American violinist Li Weigang, Wang will perform Dmitri Shostakovich's Five Pieces for two violins and piano along with Li.

“Traditionally, classical music is distant and serious but I hope audiences will feel happy and relaxed after watching my performances,” says Wang, who will be joined by Hong Kong pianist Wong Wai-yin in her recital.

The violinist also sees her Carnegie recital as the completion of her studies in the United States.

Born in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, Wang began learning violin at the age of 4 with her father, Wang Bainian, and her uncle, Wang Baihong, who are both violinists.

Her parents played lots of classical music at home, but Wang also absorbed a variety of music genres, such as pop and jazz, which have inspired her musical interpretations.

Her solid technique led to offers from four established music schools in 2008, including the Beijing-based Central Conservatory of Music and three New York institutions: the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music and the Bard College Conservatory of Music.

She chose to study at Bard with a full scholarship under Li, a violin professor.

“She is a natural and quick learner,” says Li. “Difficult things on the violin seem effortless for her, and she is also a very intelligent and lyrical performer.”

Israeli violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi also taught Wang while she studied at Bard. “I am very impressed by her playing, which was very special and different from others, and her technique is amazingly clean and accurate,” says the 76-year-old.

In 2014, Wang began studying at the Yale School of Music under violinist and professor Ani Kavafia with a full scholarship.

Speaking about her music, Wang says that Chinese parents want their children to become successful as soloists, and the importance of chamber music is ignored.

But during her studies in the US, she learned to play and enjoy music along with her classmates.

In January, she was one of the 80 overseas Chinese musicians chosen to participate in a tour initiated by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble. That enabled the young violinist to test her ability to improvise for the first time.

“My fingers were stiff and I was nervous. But the experience really inspired me and it was fun,” says Wang, who toured Guangzhou, Taipei and Hong Kong with the Silk Road Ensemble.

On Tuesday, Wang released her debut album, Romance, which has 10 romantic pieces, such as Claude Debussy's Clair De Lune, Edward Elgar's Salut D'amour and Fritz Kreisler's Midnight Bells from the operetta Der Opernball.

In August, the violinist will return to China and launch a music festival, which will focus mainly on chamber music.

“We invite musicians from the older and younger generations. I want to bring my musician friends to the festival ever year,” says Wang, who helped launch music festivals in Venezuela and Colombia in 2013.

“Our goal is to show audiences that classical music is not boring and it can be fun. It is really amazing to make music with my friends.”

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