Tianwa Yang

About Tianwa Yang

Violinist Tianwa Yang has distinguished herself from the crowd of young violinists and has become a major star especially in Germany, where she was partly trained. Yang's recordings have focused on virtuoso repertory, although she dislikes that term as applied to her own playing.
Yang was born in Beijing on April 8, 1987, and she showed talent immediately after taking up the violin at age four. Competition victories are key in climbing the ladder in China, and Yang entered her first one just eight months after starting to play. She won several of them as a child and at ten was admitted to Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. After an appearance at the Beijing Music Festival in 1999, she was invited to perform with violinist Isaac Stern in the U.S. The logical next step, followed by many other young Chinese musicians, would have been to apply to a U.S. conservatory, but Yang showed typical independence of mind when, at 16, she headed for Germany alone. Supported by a German Academic Exchange Service scholarship, she pursued mostly chamber music studies there, rather than pure violin work. One teacher she has credited with a strong influence on her playing is Baroque cellist Anner Bylsma, even though she has rarely performed on Baroque instruments. In 2007, Yang made debuts in Germany, touring with the Klassische Philharmonie Bonn, and in the U.S., at the Virginia Arts Festival. By then, she was already a veteran recording artist, having recorded Paganini's Caprices in 2000 for the Hugo Classical label. She moved to Naxos in 2004, beginning a cycle of the violin music of Pablo de Sarasate. Many of her recordings have focused on virtuoso repertory -- Paganini, Ysaÿe, Wolfgang Rihm -- although she told Geoffrey Newman of Vancouver Classical Music that "I've always tried not to sound virtuosic because, in my opinion, that’s not something audiences are fundamentally interested in. I see little point in having all these people sitting there just witnessing technical feats."
A professor of music at the Würzburg Conservatory, Yang has toured widely in Europe and North America; her U.S. appearances include those with the Seattle, Baltimore, and Detroit symphony orchestras. She has won various awards including the ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of the Year in 2015. Increasingly often she has returned to the Far East to perform; her 2019 schedule included an appearance with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in China. That year, Yang recorded the Brahms Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Antoni Wit. ~ James Manheim