Building a career as a solo pianist is rarely easy. Hundreds of talented young pianists graduate from the world’s conservatories and universities every year. Finding a place for themselves in a crowded field can be daunting.
Xiayin Wang, a young pianist who will make a set of appearances in Chicago starting next week, seems to be finding her way. Born in China and a prize-winning student at the Shanghai Conservatory, she came to the United States in 1997 for college-level work at the Manhattan School of Music. She has performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and her recently released CD of music by Scriabin is full of color and an infectious sense of propulsive rhythm.
As an artist, Wang (her name is pronounced sha-EEN wong) grew up in two worlds. Her father plays the erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument that resembles a two-string fiddle, and her training in Shanghai focused relentlessly on developing a proper keyboard technique. But she studied Western classical music, whose greatest piano works require a strong emotional commitment as well as formidable technique. Straddling two worlds, she said, has given her an unusually flexible approach to her career. She enjoys playing jazz and tango as well as classical music.