Concert Will Include New England Premiere of a New Guitar Work
Middlebury, VT—China’s most accomplished classical guitarist, Xuefei Yang, will return to Middlebury on Friday, December 6. Originally from Beijing, and now based in the U.K., Yang is regarded as one of the world’s finest classical guitarists. At her two previous Middlebury College Performing Arts Series performances in 2008 and 2012, she captivated audiences with her finesse and virtuosity, and her choice of programs beautifully highlighted the acoustics of the Mahaney Center’s Concert Hall. Now she is back, by popular demand, to perform works by Scarlatti, Schubert, Britten, Walton, Ginastera, and a New England premiere of a new work by Chen Yi, composed specifically for Yang.
Yang was born following China’s Cultural Revolution, an era where Western music and instruments were banned. Her rise to the world stage reflects her status as a musical pioneer. She was the first guitarist in China to enter a music school, and became the first to launch an international professional career. Her first public appearance at the age of ten, at the China International Guitar Festival, received such acclaim that the Spanish ambassador in China immediately presented her with a concert guitar. The composer Rodrigo attended her debut concert in Madrid when she was fourteen. In 1995, when composer John Williams came to Beijing, he was so impressed with her playing that he gave two of his own Smallman guitars to the Beijing’s Central Conservatoire especially for Yang and other advanced students. Yang then went on to become the first Chinese student to be awarded a full postgraduate scholarship to London’s Royal Academy of Music. In recognition of her distinguished career, Yang was awarded ‘Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music in June 2012. The British classical music magazine Classic FM named Yang as one of the 100 top classical musicians of our time.
Today Yang enjoys a truly international career, performing worldwide as a soloist, as a chamber musician, and with leading orchestras. She has performed in such prestigious venues as Wigmore Hall and Royal Albert Hall in London, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Konzerthaus Vienna, and New York’s Lincoln Center. She gave the first guitar recital in Beijing’s National Center of Performing Arts. Yang’s 2013/14 season includes appearances in San Francisco, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Baltimore, Miami, New York, Vermont, Seoul, Taiwan, Brussels, London, and Bath.
Yang records exclusively for the EMI Classics label. Her debut album, “Romance de Amor,” won a gold disc in Hong Kong, and her second, “40 Degrees North,” was selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine. Recent recordings include a critically-acclaimed appearance on Ian Bostridge’s “Britten Songs” album, and the release of “Sojourn,” a compilation disc featuring the music of J. S. Bach and others. On that Bach recording, Yang performs with the Elias String Quartet, who coincidentally will appear on Middlebury’s Performing Arts Series on March 13, 2014.
Yang has embarked on a journey to expand the guitar repertoire, with a particular interest in adding Chinese music to the genre. She has made substantial new contributions, both with her own arrangements, and by commissioning new compositions. Her Middlebury concert program is no exception. It will feature the New England premiere of a work written specifically for her by Chen Yi, a Chinese composer of contemporary classical music, and the first Chinese woman to receive a Master of Arts in music composition from Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music. Yang’s performance at Middlebury will also include her own transcriptions of works by Scarlatti and Britten; Schubert’s Three Songs; the evocative Ginastera guitar sonata; and Walton’s Five Bagatelles.
The concert by Xuefei Yang will take place on Friday, December 6, 2013, at 8:00 P.M. in the Concert Hall of Middlebury College’s Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts. Tickets are $25 for the general public; $20 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and $6 for Middlebury College students. A special pre-performance dinner will be held in the Mahaney Center lower lobby at 6:30 P.M. (prix fixe $25). The Mahaney Center is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. Free parking is available. For more information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to http://go.middlebury.edu/arts.
Top right and top: Xuefei Yang, photo J. Cornide
Second from top: Xuefei Yang, photo Neil Muir
Third from top: Xuefei Yang at the Mahaney Center for the Arts concert Hall, 2012, photo Aaron Kimball
Bottom: Xuefei Yang, photo Neil Muir