International superstar pianist, Yuja Wang, spends most of the year in recitals, concert series, and touring with the most respected orchestras and conductors at leading venues around the world.
In February, she appeared on local stages for the first time with the Santa Cruz Symphony (SCS). Much to our immense delight, she made an unprecedented and swift return. On June 24 and 25, 2017, Yuja reunited with SCS for two dazzling concerts hosted at the Civic Auditorium and Mello Center for the Performing Arts.
Her exciting return engagement at Santa Cruz venues is cause for celebration. The packed houses and thunderous audience ovations confirm Yuja’s status as one of this century’s most phenomenal artists; her collaboration with SCS verifies our orchestra’s superb commitment to bringing world-renowned artistry to local stages.
Under the baton of Maestro Daniel Stewart, Yuja and the orchestra performed two piano concerti – Beethoven No. 1 and Brahms No. 1, taking on two of the most awe-inspiring composers in the history of classical music. The performances by Yuja and the Symphony enlivened the stunning music of Beethoven and Brahms by creating an opportunity to experience two of their symphonic legacies in a modern context.
Both Yuja and SCS have a way of connecting music with a broad demographic. Yuja’s unique blend of classical music with contemporary style appeals to seasoned aficionados as well as newcomers of all ages. This past season, SCS presented numerous compelling productions that engaged the community. The concerts last weekend were no exception. Through the merging of their exceptional talents, Yuja and the Symphony showed their capacity for stirring up the status quo and giving audiences a fresh experience of timeless music.
The performances of Beethoven and Brahms highlighted Yuja’s striking musical virtuosity as well as her charismatic stage presence. The award-winning artist is recognized for her mastery of the piano as well as for her bold fashion (among her many musical accolades was her induction into Giorgio Armani’s Sì Women’s Circle). Her confidence with color and design made the recent performance another multi-sensory experience – her style appears to be an outer expression of her inner relationship with the music. She communicated this verve and creativity on the keyboard, interpreting the dramatic emphasis and delicate nuances of the two concertos with great awareness and dexterity.
The orchestra was in complete attunement with Yuja’s range of creative expression. Maestro Stewart navigated the musicians in a graceful narrative that captured the poetic essence of Beethoven and Brahms. Yuja and Stewart’s instinctual understanding of the varied tempos and character within each composition made the music flow and come to life. The audience was riveted and the anticipation was palpable before the first notes were played. At the end of each captivating movement, there was an audible sound of people remembering to breathe again. Yuja’s playfulness during her multiple encores was a bright conclusion to such a powerful show.
Through their intimate involvement with their art, Yuja, Stewart, and the orchestral musicians drew us in to an unforgettable musical experience. Yuja II was more than a magnificent grand finale for the 2016/17 Season. It was a vision of the outstanding art our Symphony is creating and contributing to Santa Cruz concert halls, the world of classical music and beyond.
The upcoming 2017/18 Season marks the Santa Cruz Symphony’s 60th Anniversary. Get your tickets HERE!