Superstar pianist Yuja Wang has been featured with almost every legendary orchestra in the world. Last weekend, the celebrated artist lit up the stage for a rare appearance with the Santa Cruz Symphony at the Civic Auditorium and the Henry J. Mello Center.
Yuja’s performances with our local orchestra showcased the striking virtuosity and vibrant personality that she brings to music. It’s no wonder why she has the world at her feet (and fingertips). Since beginning piano lessons at age six, her talent has been strengthened by superb training with leading maestros. Her dazzling career has included solo albums and concerto recordings, a Grammy nomination, numerous artist awards, and touring internationally to perform in foremost venues.
Her partnership with the Santa Cruz Symphony highlighted brilliant technique and instinct for musical temperament. The program featured the soloist in two piano concertos, Prokofiev 5th and Brahms 2nd. Both scores are long, varied, and challenging – light and tranquil in some movements, intense and tempestuous in others. Despite these complexities, Yuja’s detailed expression and rhythmic precision beautifully matched Maestro Daniel Stewart’s sensitivity for mood and timing. Under Stewart’s inspired guidance, Yuja and the orchestra created a musical conversation within the challenging concertos that left a lasting impression of symphonic harmony.
While each set was mesmerizing, her encore performance at the J. Mellow Center defined the deep level of musical perceptiveness and distinct interpretive style for which Yuja has become known. Her rendition of Mozart’s Turkish March was a polished, piquant, and playfully jazzed-up version of the score. As her hands flew up and down the keyboard the arrangement seemed to break musical speed limits and had the audience on their feet for another fiery standing ovation before the last note was played.
In the same way that Yuja establishes contrasts of style and color within phrases of music, she also impresses the audience with her dramatic flair for fashion. Her provocative dresses and charismatic presence make the artist’s performance look as vivid as it sounds. There is no doubt that her massive following as one of the most gifted and sought after contemporary musicians will only continue to grow.
Yuja’s appearance marked the most high-profile concert in the Santa Cruz Symphony’s history so far. If her recent performances are anything to go by, it is with great anticipation that we can look forward to more musical collaborations between our regional orchestra and world-renowned artists.
Get your tickets for the next Santa Cruz Symphony concert HERE.