World-renowned pianist comes to BU for Lyceum series

Joyce Yang
Joyce Yang
Joyce Yang

By Rebecca Fiedler

Baylor University sees its share of talent come and go as it often hosts famous guests, and it will uphold that legacy by hosting critically acclaimed pianist, Joyce Yang.

Yang will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Roxy Grove Hall, as part of the Lyceum series. Yang will be treating audience members to a plethora of musical pieces, from works of Chopin and Beethoven to George Gershwin’s “The Man I Love.”

Yang’s concert is free and open to the public.

“She, in my opinion is the most complete pianist of her age I’ve heard ever in my lifetime,” said Dr. Bradley Bolen, lecturer in piano and member of the Lyceum Committee, the organization that will be hosting Yang at Baylor.

Bolen said Yang is not an average pianist. Yang won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2005, at the age of 19.

Bolen said this was a young age for a pianist to be winning a medal at the “Olympics of pianists.”

“In every generation you’ll have 10 or 12 young virtuosos that have this amazing technique that everybody’s excited about, and very often they don’t ever mature,” Bolen said.

“She comes not only with the technical package, but she is such a mature musician,” Bolen said. “She has a lot of nuance to her playing that you wouldn’t expect from someone 26 years old. You expect it from someone who’s lived this full career.”

Bolen said playing piano music involves a balance of doing what the performer wants with the music and playing how the composer wanted the piece to be played.

“It’s not like pop music where I do what I want when I want to do it,” he continued. “You’re trying to create this window through which people can kind of travel back through time.”

Bolen said Yang has a deep understanding of style, and can really communicate to an audience. Her sense of timing is more mature than other pianists.

Her characterization of sound is great, Bolen said. She is versatile, playing a variety of music.

Bolen found it impossible to explain the intangibles that characterize Yang’s playing. He described it as “sophisticated” and colorful.”

“There’s a certain amount of mystery that goes into music making, and if we understood it all, we wouldn’t necessarily be attracted to it. She has that quality of being provocative when she plays. It’s the intangibles you hear in her playing that often define her character. It’s our quirks that make us have personality, and it’s a balancing act between letting those quirks get out of control and then doing what we think the composer wants us to do. She walks that balance very well.”

Three students will play for Yang in a master class, which is a small lesson given to a few people in front of an audience. She will give each of them a lesson in their playing after they perform for her.

“I’m really excited to meet her,” Bolen said. “I hope I get to talk to her.”