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Jing Yang on the Power of Music

For Si-Yo Artist™ Jing Yang, music can be summed up by one of her favorite quotes by Hans Christian Andersen: “Where words fail, music speaks.”

“My performing life has brought me to many countries. Whether playing French music in China or Russian music in Spain, the audience understood and responded,” the pianist explains. “Imagine 1000 people in a hall, all sharing the same kind of emotional moment—that is the power of the music.”

When Dr. Yang met members of the Foundation, she found that they shared her view. “I love how they are so passionate about its goals. [Chairwoman and President] Eva Lerner-Lam, especially, really touched me with how personal it was for her.

“I also really responded to how their activities bridge the East and the West,” she adds. “It's a special organization.”

Born in China, she received her bachelor's degree and doctoral degree of musical arts from Manhattan School of Music and received a master's degree at The Juilliard School. At Manhattan School of Music, she teaches the Distance Learning Program, leading its K–12 traditional Chinese music program “Singing Legend, Dancing Lion;” she is also staff pianist for Pinchas Zukerman. Additionally, she teaches in the Extension Division at Rutgers University and will teach this summer in the Young Artists Program at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

As a performer, she has given solo recitals in numerous countries including the United States, Germany, France, and Japan. She has also participated in master classes with distinguished pianists including Garrick Ohlsson, Andrej Jasinski, and Jerome Lowenthal. As a chamber musician she has performed with vocalists, strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments.

Her achievements include winning first prize at the Munz Piano Competition in New York City and second prize at the Eastman International Piano Competition.

Through her association with Si-Yo, Dr. Yang has found collaborative opportunities. She was introduced to fellow Si-Yo Artist™ Virgil Boutellis-Taft, violinist, when the Foundation was organizing a concert at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, DC in 2018. The resulting program, “Dazzling Strings,” had a nearly full house and was watched by over 2,000 viewers when it livestreamed.

“We had a great time playing together and are open to doing more projects with each other,” she says. “We are planning to perform together in DC at the residence of the French Ambassador to the United States.”

In addition to continuing to teach, Ms. Yang hopes to play more concerts in China as well as perform a program featuring piano and erhu; her father is an erhuist.

“Both performing and teaching are so rewarding,” she explains. “They both allow me to express and share what’s in my heart with people—both those I do and don’t know. And if I don’t know them, it often doesn’t matter because the music always connects all of us on so many levels physically, intellectually, emotionally, and culturally. To me, that makes music essential in life.”