Joyce Yang, the GRAMMY nominated pianist visits Australia in her first national tour for Musica Viva. She will perform great masterworks in two programs of Grieg, Debussy, Chopin and Schumann or Rachmaninoff, Janáček and Liszt, each featuring a world premiere by young Sydney composer, Elizabeth Younan. She will also conduct a Masterclass in Sydney for students, teachers and audiences.
Joyce Yang is one of the leading pianists in the newest generation of virtuosi. The South Korean-born star, who shot to fame as the youngest contestant in the 2005 International Van Cliburn Competition, performs concertos with the leading orchestras of the world, chamber music, recordings, adjudicating and recitals.
Her first tour for Musica Viva Australia involves a demanding solo tour of two different programs featuring nine different pieces. “It’s a soliloquy that reveals absolutely everything about a pianist,” she says, speaking on the phone from her home in New York. “When I play a recital, I meet sides of me that I didn’t know existed. It’s truly like all the different sides of you come out and play. It’s just you on stage and no outside force, just whatever energy you pick up from the audience.”
The two programs have very different energies, she explains. Both include a world premiere, Elizabeth Younan’s first Piano Sonata, which was commissioned for the tour by Julian Burnside AO QC. Elizabeth Younans graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium graduate with First Class Honours and has just won a coveted place at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to further her composition studies.
Joyce describes the first program of Grieg, Debussy, Chopin and Schumann as having a sense of optimism, of lightness. “Whereas with the second program – Rachmaninoff, Janáček and Liszt – there are much more dark, vivid hues. a lot of drama and nostalgia. In my mind these works occupy darker colours, with many jewelled tones, different shades of shadows. There is a dangerous spirit to the second program.”
Born in 1986 in Seoul, Joyce had entered the School of Music at the Korea National University of Arts by the age of ten, later moving to the United States to join the pre-college division of the Juilliard School. After winning the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greenfield Student Competition, she performed Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with that orchestra aged twelve years. She made her New York Philharmonic debut with Lorin Maazel in 2006 and performed on the orchestra’s tour of Asia, making a triumphant return to her hometown of Seoul.
More recently, she was awarded an Avery Fischer Career Grant and received her first GRAMMY nomination in 2017 for a chamber music recording with violinist Augustin Hadelich.
PROGRAM ONE (Sydney Weekend) GRIEG Five Lyric Pieces DEBUSSY Estampes CHOPIN Andante spianato et Grande polonaise brillante, op 22 Elizabeth YOUNAN Piano Sonata* SCHUMANN Carnaval, op 9
PROGRAM TWO (Sydney Weekday) RACHMANINOFF Three Preludes JANÁČEK Piano Sonata 1.X.1905 LISZT Spanish Rhapsody Elizabeth YOUNAN Piano Sonata* LISZT Sonata in B minor
*Commissioned for Musica Viva by Julian Burnside AO QC