Santa Cruz Symphony’s Historic Concert with Yuja Wang

Fleur Williams, Local Santa Cruz

Superstar pianist Yuja Wang has been featured with almost every legendary orchestra in the world. Last weekend, the celebrated artist lit up the stage for a rare appearance with the Santa Cruz Symphony at the Civic Auditorium and the J. Mellow Center.

Yuja’s performances with our local orchestra showcased the striking virtuosity and vibrant personality that she brings to music. It’s no wonder why she has the world at her feet (and fingertips). Since beginning piano lessons at age six, her talent has been strengthened by superb training with leading maestros. Her dazzling career has included solo albums and concerto recordings, a Grammy nomination, numerous artist awards, and touring internationally to perform in foremost venues.

Her partnership with the Santa Cruz Symphony highlighted brilliant technique and instinct for musical temperament. The program featured the soloist in two all-piano concertos, Prokofiev 5th and Brahms 2nd. Both scores are long, varied, and challenging – light and tranquil in some movements, intense and tempestuous in others. Despite these complexities, Yuja’s detailed expression and rhythmic precision beautifully matched Maestro Daniel Stewart’s sensitivity for mood and timing. Under Stewart’s inspired guidance, Yuja and the orchestra created a musical conversation within the challenging concertos that left a lasting impression of symphonic harmony.