Based on appearances alone, you might peg Yuja Wang as a socialite, or a couture-loving fashion personality—at least if she were wearing her typical performance attire. For many, the juxtaposition between Wang’s exuberant, body-conscious outfit choices (curve-hugging gowns flashing a bare back or leg; tight, up-to-there mini dresses bedecked with cutouts and sequins) and her prowess as one of the world’s leading classical pianists is unexpected. Critics have even deemed her daring looks “distracting.” But, the 31-year-old virtuoso and Rolex testimonee reasons, why shouldn’t she express herself to the fullest extent?
It’s this unapologetic candor and intuitive style, perhaps, that’s lead Wang to international acclaim—that and what her Carnegie Hall bio calls “mind-boggling technical skill, penetrating interpretive insight, and enough charisma to light a city.” (She’s played there, in her current hometown of New York City, more than a dozen times.) Born in Beijing to musician parents, Wang was accepted into the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at 14. Breaking onto the international stage in 2007 as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she’s built a legacy of critical renown since. In 2016, she ascended what she calls “Everest” for classical pianists, performing Beethoven’s grueling “Hammerklavier” sonata with her signature nuance, intellect, and audacity.
Through 2019, Wang is booked solid with tours with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and to South America; concerts throughout Asia, at Versailles, and from Istanbul to Toronto; and as an artist-in-residence at Carnegie Hall. Audiences can count on her reenergizing classics with her own impassioned interpretations, performing encores (she’s played up to five at one concert), and showing off a suite of five-inch heels and bold-colored bandage dresses. And while she’s been called one of this era’s most skilled pianists, it’s Wang’s electric stage persona, relatable free-time lifestyle, and fearless artistry that’s breaking barriers of who classical music is for and what kind of person can excel in it.
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