Arts & Culture

Joyce Yang joins Wichita Symphony for ‘Voyages at Sea’

Joyce Yang returns to play with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
Joyce Yang returns to play with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Courtesy photo

When Joyce Yang sits down at the piano, she becomes a force to be reckoned with. A bit like the classical concerto she will perform with the Wichita Symphony next weekend as part of its “Voyages at Sea” program.

Performing for the second time in Wichita, Yang will take on Sergei Prokofiev’s third piano concerto, a piece she played the first time with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 12. Yang last played with the Wichita Symphony in 2013, making this her second consecutive season appearance with the symphony, but its conductor and music director, Daniel Hege, was eager to bring her back.

“Prokofiev’s third piano concerto requires an artist who is powerful and poetic, and someone who exudes energy and passion and has great technical facility. Joyce Yang is that person,” Hege said. “Like any successful artist, as Ms. Yang has acquired more concert experience, the expectation is that her musical instincts and ideas become sharper. Her technical prowess was already more than proven the last time she was here.”

Yang, 27, performs around the world. She has played with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony. But one of her most vivid memories is playing in Budapest, Hungary, with the Danubia Symphony.

“I loved the energy and enthusiasm (I felt) coming from the audience. I remember playing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 for my encore in front of a packed house in the Bela Bartok Concert Hall, where Liszt used to perform. It was truly thrilling to bring ‘their’ music to ‘their’ stage and receive a standing ovation at the end,” Yang said in an interview last week from Fort Worth, where she was performing in the John Giordano Tribute Concert at Bass Performance Hall.

Yang’s ability to express herself while performing will set the tone for a rip-roaring journey across the high seas. “Each work is powerful and explores a wide emotional and dynamic range,” Hege said.

The “Voyages at Sea” program will include “works known for their virtuosity” including Benjamin Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes,” Claude Debussy’s “La Mer” and John Corigliano’s “Voyage.” Each piece comes together to tell the story of an ocean journey.

When not traveling and performing around the world, Yang relaxes by listening to an eclectic mix of performers. Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton and Velvet Underground are inspiration when she feels the need to escape her classical life. When she does listen to classical, she has her favorites.

“When I’m in the mood for classical music, I listen to the Brahms Symphonies, Beethoven String Quartets and Baroque choral music … and maybe some Stravinsky thrown into the mix,” Yang said.

If You Go

Wichita Symphony Orchestra’s Voyages at Sea

Special guest: Joyce Yang performs Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 3”

When: 8 p.m. April 18 and 3 p.m. April 19

When: Century II Concert Hall, 225 W. Douglas

Tickets: $19-$57, or 316-267-7658