Biography

"A prodigy, [running] the emotional gamut from brooding introspection to manic exuberance" - The Examiner

"Yang is a special musician and an extremely talented and accomplished pianist. His playing is consistenly soulful and poetic; he plays with power and polish." - Audrey Axinn, faculty at Juilliard and Mannes

"A gifted, sincere musician, and serious artist" - Ruth Slenczynska

"Inspiring, casting the audience into a spell" - Geilenkirchener Zeitung (Germany)

Deemed by The Examiner as "a prodigy, [running] the emotional gamut from brooding introspection to manic exuberance”, American pianist and composer, Andrew J. Yang, has an active international performance career across the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Recent engagements have included solo recitals at the Bösendorfer Hall at the Mozarthaus in Vienna, Murphy Recital Hall in Los Angeles (as a visiting guest artist at Loyola Marymount University), Daniels Auditorium in the NC Museum of History for the Paderewski Festival in Raleigh, Krakow Jewish Cultural Center (Poland), Hoheikan in Sapporo (Japan), and Casa de Culturas in Llanes and Ribadesella (Spain). Yang has also performed in Auditorium Marcel Landowski in Paris, Victor Borge Hall in Scandinavia House (New York City), Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium), Museum of Modern Art, Doctorow Center of the Arts, Steinway Hall (NYC), and the German Consulate in NYC. Yang is also half of the Vala-Yáng Duo, formed with his girlfriend, Icelandic pianist Erna Vala Arnardóttir. In 2018, they were each awarded the "White Rose" Medal of Honor from the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö in addition to the Icelandic-Finnish Cultural Grant.

 

In July 2019, Yang was awarded the top prize (second prize ex-aequo, no first prize awarded) at the 30th FLAME International Piano Competition in Paris, France. He was a finalist in the 2018 Serge & Olga Koussevitzky Piano Competition in New York City and has also been awarded various prizes at the VI Euregio Piano Award International Competition in Germany, 2019 Five Towns Piano Competition, Metropolitan International Piano Competition, International Heida Hermanns Piano Competition, Thaviu-Issac Piano Competition, Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, Evanston Music Club Competition, and the San Francisco Chopin Competition for Young Pianists. Yang’s performances have been heard over radio broadcast on WUSF 89.7 and WIOX 93.1, and television broadcast on N1 Neiderosterreich (Austria). 

Lauded as "inspiring, drawing the audience into a spell" by Geilenkirchener Zeitung (Germany) and regarded by Meinbezirk (Austria) as "a young American pianist of special class", Yang attempts to create a deep connection with audiences through his emotional and philosophical approach to music. Julian Dawson, Former Associate Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera said of Yang: "He has a remarkable talent, his innate musical understanding combined with a fine technical facility gives him an ability to grasp the essence of each piece." Audrey Axinn, artist faculty at Mannes and Juilliard, remarks: “[Yang is] a special musician [and] an extremely talented and accomplished pianist. His playing is consistently soulful and poetic; he plays with power and polish”.

 

Born and raised in California, Yang’s unbounded energy and disdain for sleep led his parents to enroll him in many sports and extracurricular activities, including piano lessons at the age of five with Sumi Nagasawa. After taking a break from music, he rediscovered a passion for playing the piano at the age of 13 as he began studying with an important musical influence and mentor to date, William Wellborn, at the San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory Division. Yang then received a B.A. in Economics and B.M. in Piano Performance in the five-year dual degree program at Northwestern University as a student of James Giles. Upon graduation with a M.M. in Piano Performance from Mannes School of Music while studying with Pavlina Dokovska, he received the 2017 Steinway & Sons Award, the top distinction given to an outstanding pianist which came with a monetary award sponsored by Steinway. Recently, Yang began studies with artist faculty Antoinette Perry at USC Thornton School of Music, pursuing a D.M.A. doctoral degree on full tuition scholarship and stipend. Other teachers and mentors include Ruth Slenczynska, Dang Thai Son, Audrey Axinn, Robert McDonald, and Julian Dawson. He has also received numerous scholarships to study and perform at many summer festivals, including the Austrian International Piano Festival and Seminar, Krakow Piano Summer (Poland), Academy of Fortepiano Performance (Hunter, NY), Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival (Flordia), Gijon International Piano Festival (Spain), Centre d’Arts Orford (Canada), and Banff Centre (Canada).

Specializing in the music of R. Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Schubert, Chopin, and Prokofiev, Yang in recent years has also enthusiastically explored the music of Liszt, Scriabin, Albéniz, Mompou, Scarlatti, Gubaidulina, and Tchaikovsky. He works extensively with two of the most luminary and important composers of today: Myung Hwang Park, currently studying at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris with Thierry Escaich, and South African Braam van Eeden, a student of Lowell Liebermann. Park’s Echoes from no man's lake (2018) and Grandioso for solo piano (2017), and van Eeden’s Ten Miniatures (2016) were dedicated to Yang. In 2015, Yang gave the world premiere of solo piano works by Stephen Kleiman at Ruggles Hall (Chicago), commissioned by the Newberry Library. In 2017, Yang performed John Cage's Atlas Eclipticalis at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art in NYC) with Bang on a Can. He has worked on improvisation with Grammy-award winning classical/jazz pianist, Uri Caine. Please visit Park and Eeden's respective websites here: www.myunghwangpark.com; www.braamvaneeden.com

Yang is appreciative of the integrity and kindness of his parents and their support over the years. A formerly competitive athlete, Yang pursued an amateur boxing career, training at the legendary John's Boxing Gym in the Bronx, NY, with "Shabazz" Lorenzo Sidberry, who has coached IBF World Champions such as Joshua Clottey and Joseph Agbeko. Yang currently trains in the various disciplines of M.M.A. (including Muay Thai, BJJ, and Wrestling), most recently at Modern Martial Arts and Fitness in Pasadena with Justen Hamilton and Savannah Em. Previously he trained Muay Thai with Kru Nestor Marte at Ultimate Gym New York and at Evanston Boxing Club. He was on the Northwestern Boxing Team (2010-2011) and his high school basketball and badminton teams as an all-county athlete. In addition, Yang is a classically trained violinist and an amateur singer, guitarist, and producer. He played violin in Peninsula Youth Orchestra for almost ten years and sang in the Northwestern University Chapel Choir. He was also the Coordinator of the inaugural 2019 SFZP International Fortepiano Project and Competition in New York City, working directly with American Classical Orchestra director and conductor, Tom Crawford. Yang is currently the Artistic Director of the Icelandic Schumann Society (schumann.is). When not practicing piano or stressing over career planning during covid-19, Yang enjoys calling with his parents and friends (who always seem to be very far away in distance), fervently watching every UFC fight card including the prelims, indulgently enjoying food (especially Mexican, Armenian, Italian, and Indian cuisine), and reading novels which always somehow seem to have a gloomy, dystopian, or misanthropic arc.