March 28th, 2016

This week as Joyce Yang returns to the New York Philharmonic as soloist in five performances of Manuel de Falla’s “Nights in the Gardens of Spain” she recalled her first experience with the Orchestra in 2005. “A few months after the Cliburn Silver Medal was given to me, I was summoned to show up at Lincoln Center at 9 AM on Thanksgiving Day to play for Lorin Maazel, the Orchestra’s Music Director at the time,” she recounted.  “I played for about ten minutes and the only question he asked was, ‘Do you like to play chamber music?’ I wasn’t sure what that meant, and I thought nothing would happen after that audition. But the next day he invited me to participate in the Philharmonic’s Asian tour and they made room for me on the next concert season.

“My Philharmonic debut was in my home country, my first return to Korea for a big concert since I left at age 12. It was such a celebration – a very proud moment for my parents (who requested about 1,000 comp tickets) – and it felt like a wedding without a groom.

“The concerts in New York came immediately afterwards – and without a rehearsal! I had no idea what the acoustics would be like in what was then Avery Fisher Hall until I stepped onstage for the first performance. We did Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini twice in Korea and three times in New York, and each time Maestro Maazel gave totally different tempi for every variation. I thought, ‘Wow, each performance is supposed to be different’ – a new concept for this 20-year-old. It was big spontaneous synchronicity. I got a kick out of it and really went with it. This is what he meant by chamber music: to be willing to bend, take new chances, and really try to understand your collaborators.

“After the second New York performance I was startled when Maestro Maazel came to my dressing room. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, ‘We’ve achieved freedom today.’

“That was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with this special orchestra. Each time is an unforgettable experience.”

March 30-April 5
Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain
New York Philharmonic / Bramwell Tovey, conductor
Joyce Yang, piano
Information & tickets