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Dazzling pianist serves up Rachmaninov in her NZSO debut

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

One of the world’s best pianists will perform for the first time with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra this month.

Korean-born Joyce Yang, praised by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, will perform Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninov in a five-centre New Zealand tour beginning in Wellington on 27 October.

"Her attention to detail and clarity is as impressive as her agility, balance and velocity," said The Washington Post.

The Aspen Times declared: "Joyce Yang is more than a young pianist who can dazzle with sheer technique. What makes her special is what she does with the music."

American arts website TheaterJones was ecstatic: "In a world of dime store piano virtuosi, all with impeccable technique," she seems like something out of a Tiffany’s special collection."

Yang began playing piano at age 4 and won several national piano competitions in South Korea, before moving to the United States at age 11 to study at the prestigious Julliard School. By age 12 she was performing with symphony orchestras and by age 16 was profiled in The New York Times. Yang will perform Rachmaninov’s technically challenging Piano Concerto No.3 and has described the work as "quite a rollercoaster". "It’s such an amazing piece [with] so many wonderful moments," she says.

Yang will be reunited with NZSO Music Director Edo de Waart, for these concerts as part of his Masterworks series. Maestro de Waart has conducted several orchestras with Yang since they first worked together in 2009 when de Waart was Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. It was then that Yang performed Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto for the first time with an orchestra.

"I feel so good about my instincts when I’m playing with Edo. I’m grateful when he says, ‘Joyce, just do it’," Yang has said.

Rachmaninov with Joyce Yang will also feature the orchestral version of Rachmaninov’s elegiac Vocalise and his Symphonic Dances, which has become an orchestra favourite.

Rachmaninov with Joyce Yang is also performed in Christchurch on 31 October, Dunedin (1 November), Hamilton (3 November) and Auckland (4 November).

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