Interim Piano Area Head; Associate ProfessorYang Web

Praised by Fanfare as “a first-rate pianist who isn’t afraid of challenges,” Chinese-American Pianist Clara Yang (Associate Professor) has performed in notable venues such as Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing), Remonstrantse Kerk (The Netherlands), the Seymour Centre (Sydney, Australia), the Barclay Theater (Irvine, California), Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theater (Rochester, New York), the Sunset Center (Carmel, California), Memorial Hall (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), Meymandi Concert Hall (Raleigh, North Carolina), and in series such as Carolina Performing Arts, Dame Myra Hess (Chicago Cultural Center), and Mas i Mas at the Museu d’Història de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain). She is currently Associate Professor of Piano at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Besides performing the traditional repertoire, Dr. Yang is also an avid contemporary and new music interpreter. The distinguished composer Chen Yi composed the piano concerto Four Spirits for her in 2016. Dr. Yang performed the U.S. premiere of the concerto with the distinguished conductor Maestro Long Yu (余隆) leading the China Philharmonic Orchestra (中国爱乐乐团) in the Carolina Performing Arts series in December 2016. She performed the world premiere of this work with Maestro Huang Yi conducting the China Philharmonic in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. In addition, she performed Phillip Glass’s etudes along with the composer himself, Timo Andres, and other renowned artists in the Glass at 80 festival in 2017. She recorded Lee Weisert’s Érard, which was written for her, for Weisert’s album Wild Arc on the New Focus label. Dr. Yang served on the Artist Panel for New Music USA in 2015.

Concert highlights as a concerto soloist include performances with the European Union Youth Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy, the China Philharmonic Orchestra under Long Yu and Huang Yi, the Eastman Philharmonia under Jeff Tyzik, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra under Carl St. Clair, the Longview Symphony under Tonu Kalam, and numerous appearances with the North Carolina Symphony under Grant Llewellyn. Her solo album Folding Time was released by Albany Records in July 2015. With the support of New Music USA and Carolina Performing Arts, she worked with Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Matthew Snyder and recorded in Memorial Hall, NC. This album won a Global Music Awards Gold Medal and received rave reviews from FanfareNew York Arts, and American Record Guide. Her cello-piano duo album Grieg and Prokofiev (Albany Records) with Los Angeles Opera cellist Helen Zheng Altenbach was released in 2014. It has been aired on Montana Public Radio KUFM 89.1 FM, Women in Music CKWR FM 98.5 (Canada), and WCPE 89.7 FM (North Carolina) with a featured interview. Her live solo recitals and performances were broadcast on ABC Classic FM in Australia and New Zealand, 98.7 WFMT, and on Wayne Picciano’s “Grand Piano” series, which was broadcast on television in multiple states across the country.

As a guest artist, Dr. Yang has given solo recitals in numerous major conservatories and universities internationally, including the Musical College of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Russia, King’s College London, the Liceu Conservatory, the Cervera Conservatory, and the Manresa Conservatory in Spain, the Beijing Central Conservatory, the Shanghai Conservatory, and the Central Conservatory Piano Academy in Xiamen, China. She has performed in renowned music festivals such as the Music Academy of the West, the Sarasota Music Festival, the International Holland Music Sessions, and the Aspen Music Festival. An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated with artists such as members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

A sought-after teacher, Dr. Yang has frequently given masterclasses in the United States and abroad in major universities and conservatories such as the Liceu Conservatory in Spain, King’s College London, and Duke University in North Carolina. Her students have won prizes in state, national, and international competitions. She was featured as one of the three scholars in the acclaimed Chinese national magazine Globe in 2014.

Dr. Yang received her D.M.A. in piano performance at the Eastman School of Music, where she was a student of Nelita True. She studied with Claude Frank at the Yale School of Music (M.M., Artist Diploma) and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California as a student of John Perry. Her former principal teachers during her pre-college years include Hans Boepple, Zhou Guangren (周广仁), and Li Huili (李惠莉). She has also worked with numerous renowned performers and pedagogues, such as Boris Berman, Peter Frankl, Karl Heinz Kammerling, Robert Levin, Lee Kum-Sing, Jerome Lowenthal, David Shifrin, the Emerson String Quartet, the Ysaye String Quartet, and the Raphael Trio.

“Yang’s style is extraordinarily lively, awake, and aware of the music’s inner connections, the use of ‘turnaround’ phrases and the like. With further study, and applying herself, I think she could herself be a fine jazz pianist as well as a classical one—she certainly has both the technique and the élan necessary for this. Like so many young pianists, she has a flawless technique, but she possesses qualities that many of the others don’t, particularly her way of incorporating the most difficult technical passages into the ongoing musical discourse and a long view of the music in terms of structure. She also has a gorgeous piano tone… From here, Yang jumps backwards to Chopin’s Ballade No. 4.In her hands, however, it sounds somewhat strange and a bit new. She has the rare gift of being able to take an old warhorse and make it sound fresh… A first-rate recital by a first-rate pianist who knows her stuff and isn’t afraid of challenges.”

– Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare

“This lovely recital by Chinese-American pianist Clara Yang speaks to the core of what a musical heart means by romance. It might easily have been all-Chopin or all-Schumann, and we would surely come away beguiled by Yang’s light, fluid take on 1840s sparkle and sentiment. But how much better to ‘fold time’ in upon itself and mix in from our own day pieces which speak to the same ardor, ebullience, and nostalgia. The emotional origami of love and loss works in any century, after all…Among the newer works, a real find is Robert Muczynski’s Maverick Pieces…These are short, gleaming, clever, and sonorous pieces, delivered effortlessly and beautifully. I can’t stop playing them!”

– Steven Kruger, New York Arts

“Ms. Yang brought out the subtle variation of color. and the shifts in rhythmic patterns were performed with clarity and the kind of supple freedom that even the most refined orchestral conductor could hardly match…She combined impressive keyboard prowess with probing emotional depth and daring individuality through to the thunderous conclusion. Ms. Yang thoughtfully attended to unraveling Schubert’s musical intent, while giving the score a vividly personalized interpretation. ”

– Joe Sekon, Peninsula Reviews

“The pianist for the Rachmaninoff was Chinese-born Clara Yang, now a highly acclaimed UNC music faculty member and recitalist, seemingly too young for the weight of her accomplishments, but extremely effective in the piece. I admired her two years ago, when she performed Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with Vladimir Ashkenazy and his European Union Youth Orchestra…Clara Yang’s technique was effortless and smooth, and her rendition of the famous 18th Variation romantically memorable. It was wildly and deservedly well received by the audience.”

– Steven Kruger, New York Arts

“Clara Yang ended the concert with an interpretation imbued with introspection, strength, power and delicacy of Schumann’s Humoreske…A precise articulation served by a thoughtful and musical vision captured the poetry, the abrupt mood changes, and the energy and passion that flew from the Schumann’s staves.”

– Santi Riu, Segre (Cevera, Spain)

“Yang’s technical skill and artistic sensibility were apparent throughout this performance. At times her fingers moved as fast as seemed humanly possible. Her powerful expression of the Dies Irae plainchant quoted in variation 7 was spine-chilling while the orchestra accompanied with a slower version of the opening motif of the Paganini theme. The mystical quality of variation 17 was enhanced by Yang’s delicate and sensitive touch. The glorious sweeping melody of the 18th variation, had it been an aria in an opera, would have been a show-stopper. Both orchestra and soloist put their all into this extravagant moment which is a peak of romanticism. The closing variations were a blazing and brilliant comet for both orchestra and soloist.”

– Ken Hoover, Classical Voice of North Carolina

“Zheng and Yang play (Grieg Cello Sonata) with great intensity and romantic overtones. By comparison, the 2002 rendition by cellist Truls Mørk and pianist Håvard Gimse on Erato is far too restrained and refined… Zheng and Yang have a new recording that demonstrates their virtuosity and depth of interpretation in excellent sound. I recommend it to chamber music buffs everywhere. “

– Maria Nockin, Fanfare

“She revealed breath-taking technical prowess and keen interpretive insights”

– Classical Voice of North Carolina

“Clara Yang’s recital was an outstanding achievement. Thank you for giving us great pleasure and reason for admiration.”

– Claude Frank

“She demonstrated a superb technique and extraordinary musical understanding.”– Peninsula Reviews”How could one not be impressed by the technical solidity, investment and concentration demanded throughout Clara Yang’s recital?…This recital was an impressive accomplishment.”

– Michael Friedmann

Folding Time. Clara Yang, piano. Albany Records, 2015. TROY1572

Grieg and Prokofiev. Clara Yang, piano; Xiao-Dan Zheng, cello. Albany Records, 2014. TROY1485.

For more on Dr. Yang’s teaching, click here.