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Plotting the Red-Hot Rise of Concert Pianist Yuja Wang

A timeline of fame.


Twenty-nine-year-old Chinese concert pianist Yuja Wang plays at lightning speed with impeccable precision (and wears some pretty skimpy ensembles). This month she performs at Davies Symphony Hall with the Russian National Orchestra. Here, a timeline of her miniskirted strut to stardom.

1993: Wang, age 6, begins piano lessons at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music.

2001: Wang moves to Philadelphia—by herself, at age 15—to study music at the Curtis Institute. She has her recital debut at Carnegie Hall.

2004: Wang meets San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas, who promptly becomes one of her most influential mentors.

2007: Wang substitutes for famed pianist Martha Argerich in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Critics go bonkers, and the international fanfare begins.

2008: A video of Wang playing Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” is posted on YouTube. It gets over four million hits.

2009: At the age of 22, Wang has already partnered with nearly all of the world’s leading orchestras.

2011: Wang, wearing a bright orange minidress, plays the Hollywood Bowl. Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed comments, “Had there been any less of [the dress], the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult.”

2014: Despite her countless international performances and awards, people remain fixated on Wang’s fashion choices. The 26-year-old casually tells London’s Telegraph Post, “I can wear long skirts when I’m 40.”

2016: By the time she arrives in San Francisco, Wang will have performed in seven countries in just two months.

Yuja Wang performs at Davies Symphony Hall on February 21. Get tickets here.


Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco

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