"A prodigy, [running] the emotional gamut from brooding intropection to manic exuberance"
- San Francisco Examiner
"Inspiring...a special experience drawing audiences into a spell" - Geilenkirchen Zeitung
Deemed by The San Francisco Examiner as "a prodigy, [running] the emotional gamut from brooding introspection to manic exuberance”, American pianist, Andrew J. Yang, has an active international performance career across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Since moving to Iceland in 2020, Yang has established himself within the country's vibrant musical community. Yang is the founder and artistic director of the International Westfjords Piano Festival, Iceland Piano Festival, and the co-founder of the Icelandic Schumann Society. Recent engagements have included solo recitals for major festivals and venues such as at the Mozarthaus in Vienna, Murphy Recital Hall in Los Angeles for Loyola Marymount University, North Carolina Museum of History for the Paderewski Festival in Raleigh, Krakow Judaica Cultural Center, and the Hoheikan in Sapporo in Japan. Yang has also performed in most of the major New York venues including Victor Borge Hall, Carnegie Hall, Museum of Modern Art, Doctorow Center of the Arts, Steinway Hall, and the German Consulate in NYC.
Recently, Yang was awarded the top prize at the 30th FLAME International Piano Competition in Paris, France. In 2018, he was awarded the "White Rose" Medal of Honor from the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, for musical excellence. Yang was a finalist in the 2018 Serge & Olga Koussevitzky Piano Competition in New York City and has also been awarded various prizes and awards at the Metropolitan International Piano Competition, Euregio Piano International Competition in Germany, Five Towns 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. His performances have been heard over radio broadcast on Rás 1 RÚV,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 creates a deep connection with audiences through his personally involved 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, [with an] innate musical understanding combined with a fine technical facility." Audrey Axinn, 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 began piano lessons at the age of five with Sumi Nagasawa. His two most important teachers and musical mentors are Dr. William Wellborn, with whom he began studying with at the age of 13 at the San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory Division, and Antoinette Perry, with whom he studied with at USC Thornton School of Music while pursuing a D.M.A. doctoral degree on full tuition scholarship and stipend as a graduate teaching assistant. There, he was one of the two Studio T.A.´s, teaching both undergraduate and graduate piano major students. Yang 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, a top distinction given to an outstanding pianist which came with a monetary award sponsored by Steinway. Other teachers and mentors include Ruth Slenczynska, Dang Thai Son, Audrey Axinn, Julian Dawson, and Adam Wibrowski. Yang has also received numerous scholarships to study and perform at many summer festivals, including the Berkshire High Peaks Festival, Austrian International Piano Festival and Seminar, Krakow Piano Summer, Academy of Fortepiano Performance, Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival, Gijon International Piano Festival, Centre d’Arts Orford, and Banff Centre.
Specializing in the music of R. Schumann, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Prokofiev, and Schubert, Yang in recent years has also forayed deeply into the music of Liszt, Scriabin, Albéniz, Mompou, Scarlatti, and Gubaidulina. In addition, 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 (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 also worked on improvisation with Grammy-award winning classical/jazz pianist, Uri Caine. In 2021, Yang commissioned Myung Hwang Park to write a new solo piano work.
Yang is appreciative of the integrity and kindness of his parents. A former competitive athlete, Yang pursued an amateur boxing career, training out of John's Boxing Gym in the Bronx, NY, with "Shabazz" Lorenzo Sidberry, coached of multiple IBF world champions. Yang also trains M.M.A., most recently at Modern Martial Arts and Fitness in Pasadena, C.A., with Justen Hamilton and Savannah Em. He was on the Northwestern Boxing Team (2010-2011) and his high school basketball and badminton teams as an all-county athlete. In addition to piano, Yang is a classically trained violinist and a singer, guitarist, and producer. He played violin in Peninsula Youth Orchestra for almost ten years and sang in the Northwestern University Chapel Choir. Yang was the coordinator of the inaugural 2019 SFZP International Fortepiano Project and Competition in New York City. When not practicing piano or composing, he enjoys watching (almost) every UFC fight card, long walks in warmer climates, cooking, and reading. From 2020-2023, Yang was based in Patreksfjörður, a small town in the Westfjords region of Iceland. He currently resides in Reykjavík where he is on the piano faculty at Tónlistarskólinn í Grafarvogi.