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Clara Yang and Sunmi Chang

Praised for their collaboration of “technical brilliance,” Korean-American violinist, Dr. Sunmi Chang, and Chinese-American pianist, Dr. Clara Yang, will present a concert of music by women composers on Wednesday, March 23rd at 7:30 PM. These artist-scholars aim to raise awareness of underrepresented voices and encourage others to explore repertoire outside the classical music canon.

The Inspiration

The two musicians have been great friends since they were graduate students together at the Yale School of Music. Right before the pandemic, they decided to make an album of music by women composers.

When building the program, they came across many great pieces, including some they had never heard before. They chose works by Florence Price, Amy Beach, Gabriela Lena Frank, and they commissioned a sonata by Dr. Liliya Ugay.

In an interview, Dr. Yang shared that “the incredible Black composer Florence Price’s Fantasy No. 1 and the pioneering American composer Amy Beach’s sonata are juxtaposed with works by two fantastic composers of our time – Liliya Ugay and Gabriela Lena Frank. Liliya Ugay’s beautiful and playful Mother Tales was written for us. Gabriela Lena Frank’s Sueños de Chambi is a really imaginative work based on the Peruvian indigenous photographer Martín Chambi’s photographs.”

Pandemic Performances

Screenshot of Clara Yang (left) and Sunmi Chang (right) in performance together virtually.
Clara Yang (left) and Sunmi Chang (right) in a virtual concert

Although the pandemic made their collaborations more challenging, it allowed Dr. Yang and Dr. Chang to reach many different audiences through virtual concerts for UNC, London’s CityMusic series, the Yale Club of Washington D.C., and others. The two were able to play in real life together for the project when they performed in April 2022 as a part of the Process Series at UNC-Chapel Hill.

From their concert last year, CVNC praised Chang for her “excellent variety of tone colors throughout, invoking sharp dynamic contrasts and different amplitudes of vibrato to display a wide range of emotions,” and shared that “Yang’s playing was no less expressive, utilizing versatility in her touch and compelling phrasing.”

The two are excited to share this beautiful and diverse program that will hopefully inspire and spark conversations in celebrating women composers! Read more about Dr. Chang and Dr. Yang, as well as the full program here.

by Nuria Shin, class of 2023

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