Today on the Violin Podcast we have the recently appointed violinist of the Shanghai Quartet, Angelo Xiang Yu. Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, recipient of both a 2019 Avery Fisher Career Grant and a 2019 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, as well as First Prize in the 2010 Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, has won consistent critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience response worldwide for his astonishing technique and exceptional musical maturity.
Learn more about Angelo Xiang Yu by visiting his website - www.angeloviolin.com
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ladies and gentlemen i have angelo zhang yoo with me today on the violin podcast and before we begin i just want to reminisce the moment where i actually saw you performing live at new england conservatory because you're doing a a massive program of like beethoven uh kreuzer sonata and you did some sarasate and it blew me away i think i was listening to that recording of your recital maybe weeks after because i was so inspired made me want to practice because i was a student back then so it was um really inspiring but thank you yeah that was a long time ago it was it was cool yeah it was quite a bit of a go like was it 2012 2013 was it 2013 probably yeah yeah and back then when you did that recital were you doing more your um your master's degree or were you doing your artistic diploma i was a artist diploma because normally you would probably get a master degree and then you pursue a artist's diploma because it's more of a higher performance level because they only accept um one students per year or sometimes they don't accept anybody so there was very kind of like a prestigious program so i'm very lucky to be selected as one of them so as a result you get to play um twice in jordan hall and then sometimes you get to play at the boston symphony which i was lucky enough to to do that so yeah that was a while ago i can't believe it's like eight years ago or something and uh i'm glad you still remember one thing or two about that recital i do remember yeah i think there are like three encores in that performance i believe they were but they were all fantastic i mean so i would love to talk to you about because you are a soloist right and i would love to talk about how you decide your repertoire for a program what what goes into the process of evaluating okay this is the music i want to perform how do i organize it how do i manage all of this could you explain that to the audience real quick sure i mean it's always hard for us as performers to decide a program because there are so many factors you have to take into consideration sometimes you have to consider you know what kind of audience group we're facing you know different cities they have different tastes a different country different region and that's number one number two i think it's more of a balance so maybe something i would like to perform i enjoy performing may not be necessarily um you know the audience favorites you know and sometimes um you know audience like to have show pieces obviously but if i give a recital that has 10 showpieces you know i would be miserable and so i think it's it's all about balancing uh i think you have to have different you know style variety and i think that's number two and number three and also most importantly is i always wanted to have like a theme like a basic theme um you know for example if you want to have a french theme if you want to have like a conversation you know sometimes i could even have like a complete baroque in the first half and the complete modern in the second half but they are somehow co-related and some sometimes i feel like even bach is so close related to jazz you know and the rhythm so i think uh i always wanted to have a theme and uh i think that is probably those three aspects are something i would like to focus on and of course i also try to realistically not repeat the same program i did in the past three years i try not to repeat most of the repertoire sometimes you know if audience particularly like certain piece then i i probably would keep that as the centerpiece of my recital but most of the time i would like to play different repertoire and uh maybe after three or four seasons i bring something back and actually i learn new things every time i revisit those repertoire and i think it's a great thing for me as well what's currently on your music then these days i would love to know what you're working on what kind of performances you're preparing if you can share with us i'm so curious i just did the mozart uh concerto number three with the richmond symphony as the um gala performance at the menu in competition so i just got back and i also did a world premiere of mates and bates bomb the way which was supposed to be the commission work for the junior competitors but sadly they could not come and play live for us so i uh got to learn it and be a quote unquote competitor this year and to premiere that piece and i have two recitals coming up one in boston one in sarasota and um so i chose those repertoire carefully and i'm currently working on the two sonatas by mozart and two sonatas by beethoven plus a suite by britain and uh it's so interesting for me because i think mozart and beethoven are two of my favorite composers that i really cannot say like which one is my absolute favorite because i love them equally and uh i think it's always so challenging too yeah yeah exactly so yeah those are the things i'm working on and so so interesting like i i'm working on the spring sonata which i've performed so many times that i feel like it's getting harder and harder and harder every time i play it and um i think these are the interesting uh pieces that i feel like everybody knows it but i think those are the most challenging part just because everybody knows it then it puts so much pressure on you that you have to play it so well not like giving the audience an impression that oh spring sonata again we've heard that a million times every time i perform somebody some pieces that everybody knows i would always wanted to bring some fresh air and the best result for me is the audience came to me is like wow i've heard this so many times that this is a performance i would like to remember of them that's really the biggest compliment to me yeah i also find it difficult you know the more you play a piece the harder it gets because you hear more you're studying it more it's kind of like evolving with you as a violinist is there a piece in particular um not in this program that you're working on but in in your previous repertoires and previous seasons is there a piece where you evolves with you from the top of your head um there are many i mean um again i would like to bring up beethoven his smiling concerto is something i feel like it's getting harder and uh it's so exposed and i've played that many many times with different orchestras and i just feel like no matter how well you prepared or how well you feel like you're prepared um it just never really goes the way you want it to to go and uh i remember a famous quote from one of my um you know dear violinists that i really really admire who passed away a couple years ago um
and uh she is a late student of um joseph sigati and she also taught at the new england conservatory when i was a student there and we sometimes have casual chats and i remember one quote that she told me is like um i remember i played this violin concerto about 10 times in a row in a month or something like that so she did it with 10 different orchestras and you know the second to last time it was almost in tune and she was surprised by it oh wow so that's how hard it is you know so i feel it exactly the same way not only just because of the technical difficulty it has to be perfect but sadly we're all imperfect human being it's just impossible but also musically it was so simple and that is the most challenging part you know he's not making a magnificent master work by jewelry by diamonds by gold but he's just using stones and roots the you know simple elements the most basic harmony and create something so magnificent so that is the challenging part you have to make such magnificent masterpiece sounded so simple thank you for sharing all that wow that is so great um i would like to actually learn more about your upbringing with the violin how did you get started who were your biggest influences growing up before you started your time in boston and where you are today well i mean a lot of factors i would say a um i started a violin out of a coincidence just because you know my parents took me to a music teacher who kind of was teaching everything um back in mongolia that was my hometown it's in the northern part of china and uh back then there was not so much music going on there was a lot of folk tunes so music teacher there tends to teach every bit of everything violin piano guitar mongolian horror styling you know throat singing a lot of different things so you know um the first choice was piano because he saw my hand which was big and she said oh you can be a very good pianist i was i think four and a half or five when i first meet my first teacher and then my parents saw that big piano you know huge thing and uh must be very expensive and back then you know they don't think they could uh afford it and they saw a little filing box sitting on the top of the piano and they think oh maybe we can afford that it looks much smaller it must be much cheaper so maybe let's start with the violin what a mistake eric what a mistake a strategy vary they had no idea how much a stradivari would cost right but then it was such a coincidence then you know i started playing the violin but it was not like a series studying in the first i would say eight years nine years i would just kind of play it as a hobby um sometimes i pick it up sometimes i would just leave it there not touching it for two weeks it was not serious but i do like i i was really really enthusiastic about listening to recordings especially when i moved to shanghai i think i was 11 years old i got into the shanghai conservatory the primary school it is kind of hard to get in but i was so lucky to to have that opportunity to be selected so my family eventually moved to shanghai and uh and i remember i would sit in front of a um you know cassette what do you call that those uh machines like stereo cassette tape yes so so i would sit in front of that for like eight hours so all my friends my colleagues my classmates were practicing for eight hours so i was the opposite i i would sit there and listen to cds for eight hours i would skip lunch and save that money to buy cds and got really hungry before dinner time i remember that and but i really like i remember i would compare ten different recordings by izza poorman ken huachan chrysler playing mendoza concerto just first page i would just listen to them and compare back to back how they vibrate how they do their dynamics and how they use their different bowings and vibrato it's just so fascinating for me to listen to all this masters recording and comparing them so that was a huge thing for me when i grew up so my path was not like other say winter cod winter kids you know they practiced a lot got a lot of muscle memory had brilliant technique at their young age just like when i was watching the junior division of the manual competition is right now like the standard repertoire is waxman carmen fantasy you know i don't think i can even play it right now today so that's just fascinating that's how violin technique develops in the past decades so i think that was the probably the biggest factor um that made me who i am today which is listening to recordings and instead of practicing too much which is also important i uh i would say i was i'm still a little bit regret that i didn't practice enough when i was little but i think i also got so much benefits spending so much time listening to older recordings i particularly like um you know the the old golden age violinists uh uh uh milstein is my favorite violinist of course along with joshua heifetz the chrysler elman and i think that's something that is missing today like my students especially the younger students they didn't even know who those people are and they don't listen to recording just because right now social media is so strong and predominant and and instagram and all that stuff you know the videos are so short it's like 10 seconds or 60 seconds so your attention span is is getting shorter and shorter so i think that's probably one of the reasons but i was so i'm so lucky and i still get the luxury of sitting there for hours and listening to recordings well that's definitely trained you to you know sit for many hours observing different menu and competition recordings right and i would love for and i would love for you to talk a little bit about the recent you know 2021 menu and competition which occurred in richmond virginia i would love your perspective because you are a winner of the menu and competition and what was it like as a participant and what was it like as you were part of the jury this time well it was um it was so special and first of all i was just so lucky to be even invited to be a jury member because you know i i'm i was lucky enough to even be a participant back 11 years ago um i don't know if you know a little bit of that story the volcano erupted so i didn't almost missed the competition but i was so lucky that i got remind me where that was when when where was the that was in oslo oh that's right in norway yeah do you remember that yeah the volcano in iceland erupted so the entire europe could not have a single flight for two weeks or something and i was in iceland at that time when the volcano erupted i was switching airplanes in iceland so i got stuck there and everybody got stuck there and many people many contestants in europe they would drive or take the ferry and took the train but i was the only one who got stuck in iceland so with many many help by all kinds of very very nice people including the ambassador of iceland norway and china and they put me in a cockpit uh with and flew with a pilot and arrived uh trunghan which is another city in oslo and then when i arrived the competition this first round already had started and i was the last to even arrive and then i just i remember i just run directly from the bus stop to the concert hall and uh not even had a chance to draw the slot because it's not needed i was the last one for sure almost no rehearsals just play and i think that video is probably still on youtube uh i think the first piece i started with the andante by bach from the second sonata and uh i remember i i had to calm myself down without practicing for a week and just really really took me so much time to even get myself into the zone that or flight must have been really working for you at that point wow yeah because you know normally you would get so nervous especially the first round i would say most contestants were telling me that they got so nervous the first round but i even had no energy to be nervous because i just felt so lucky and grateful that i could actually just be there and perform so that was quite an experience and on the other side of the table this year 11 years after it was like a part of myself is like watching myself competing i feels like you know what i would have done i keep asking myself when certain competitors play pieces um like the commission work i was learning as well and also many other works that i've done in the past like i keep asking myself what would i have done right now or 11 years ago so i keep asking myself but it's just so so difficult to to even watch these amazing young talents just because um there are 43 competitors if i can i would love to give them all first prize i mean i'm not saying that just like a cliche or just being nice or something eric because i truly felt this way um music is not sports uh you know you definitely uh wrong 9.9 seconds it's faster than 10 seconds right you can you can judge that so easily but music is all about preference and styles you know you may not like this person and you like the other one better and other people may think completely differently so i think that's the most challenging part and and they all played so wonderfully and they all have their own individual voice that cannot be judged by the score you know so um but at the end it is a competition and the other challenging part of this year's competition is is the virtual part because of uh the pandemic we had to move everything virtual and uh i think that is the most challenging part because everybody is using different equipment and somebody they they use they play it in a concert hall and somebody they record that in a studio somebody probably didn't have the time and uh and the space so they had to record some of the runs in their own living room or friends that is so fascinating i think that was extremely fascinating that everybody has a different circumstance um you know regarding the actual recording of the competition um i also just want to i just want to kind of circle back real quick but while it's in my head but your iceland story you know in the menu in competition kind of reminds me of you know you know like the midori popping a string during the performance kind of situation or you know even there's a there's a video of ray chen you know performing and switches the violin with the concert master right i felt like i felt like that was that kind of situation uh for you which was unbelievable but it's so fascinating to listen to that story i mean i mean all the contestants in the menu and competition thankfully did not have to experience any travel difficulties which have made it convenient for them but um no but what you said about the the whole competition aspect was fascinating right i think the pure engagement of the menu in competition and the students actually get being like a participant of the menu in competition should be an accomplishment in and of itself yeah i think yes i mean i i was like uh witnessing because there are three rounds i think i was witnessing like more than 70 um online recitals in a very short period of time so that was such a treat but it's also very challenging i don't know if you've experienced something like sitting there and watch 40 videos and you know there is a lot of requirement for us as true members because we are required to only listen to everybody once just like when you're listening to a live performance you cannot go back and listen to it right interesting you have to experiment as if oh yeah you have to you know treat that as if it's a live performance and for the contestants as well that they have to you know they were asked to play in a certain hour so that you you don't really have a chance to do it 10 times and pick the best one and you are required to put a clock in front of the screen so that everybody knows that you are not editing the audio because right now the technology is so advanced you can just insert some you know write notes and splices exactly but with the clock they're moving you just cannot do that that's a very interesting time zone that's a very interesting solution to see if the clock is continuing to move around wow i did not even think of that that's fast yeah so menu and competition they definitely did such a wonderful job and making it as fair as possible for everybody even though it's just impossible right and and i think that also bring up a lot of challenges because in a live performance obviously when somebody is playing a stradivari and then you immediately know that oh wow that projects so much so well in a hall but this year maybe it's a little different you know if you have a nice equipment if you have a nice recording engineer a nice space uh if you just um happen to be in a you know very friendly hall it's just you know very different and uh somebody like to put the microphone very close to you so that's you know every single note is so clean and somebody maybe put it very far away but maybe yeah that cover up some of your little flaws but doesn't really give you a lot of clarity so you know you have to take that into consideration and i personally have to almost guess a little bit by looking at the contact point and the way they use their bow and i have to watch very closely and to kind of guess if this particular player is going to project in a hall instead of just judged by the pure volume because those are not really real you know you can turn the volume up or down um easily it's very interesting what you said about you know you actually had to visually see how the the contact point was so there was a an element of you know you know using one of your senses you know the visual is an important factor in this year's competition because not everybody's microphone is going to sound the same you know one condenser mic is going to sound you know a lot of boomier have more bass one might have more treble so that's so fascinating and i'm so glad that the menu in competition was you know really had a high standard and was was very fair um you did speak a little bit about uh shadow very and i don't know if all any of the minuen uh minuet menuen competition participants were playing on you know coronary delegations or stratifiers but you play on a stradivari and um i was reading a little bit about your your violin and it's a golden um age strat and uh approximately for listeners who are beginners or who are not familiar with the golden period of antonio stradivari is approximately between 1700 and 1725 that's when he was at the peak of his luthier making and i would love for you to talk a bit about your instrument if you can um and how you came across you know playing it yeah my um my primary instruments i mean the one you heard in jordan hall back you know eight years ago was a different stradivarius that i have been using for more than seven years it was called the solomon's jedi very and it was made in 1729 so that was a late stradivari but beautiful beautiful violin and i really really loved it and uh i've been using that for seven years i feel like i almost wanted to sleep with it it's just such a gorgeous valley and then um 2019 i got a great opportunity um by the nippon foundation and they would love to offer me the joachim stradivari my current instrument and uh it was made in 1715 as you said it's the golden period stradivari and also the historical value of it is really really remarkable because it was once owned and performed by the one of the greatest hungarian violinists in the world uh joseph joachim and you would think that one of them many of these wonderful violin concertos were premiered on this violin by the hand of yosef yorkie including brahms fighting sonata i was just going to say the sonatas was the concerto was this was a concerto premiered on that violence violent concerto and uh brook fighting controller i believe and also the schumann violin concerto just to name a few and possibly the the you know i i i i'm not hundred percent sure so when winiowski had a heart attack and had to cancel the recital yorkie had to step in and finish the concert and in the funeral of winowski and he had to play the shacon i think that's probably on this violin as well so that just to hold that piece of art is such a tremendous honor for me and to live with it on a daily basis it's just like a dream and the two violins the two stradivarius that i've been performing on are quite different the 1729 was more like a um like a lady and also has a dark side but joachim is more like a gentleman who is more masculine and harder to tame but once you get the wooden golden spot it's just gorgeous sounding it's like a wild horse that it's so hard to tame but when it's in the right spot it's just unbelievable yeah i remember when kirsten long was on the violin podcast he was speaking a bit about the differences between we were talking about the differences between like stradivari violins and gunnery violins and you've had experience with stradivari and they seem to have like a very beautiful tone um clear articulation just you know miles and miles of beautiful tone you could send that a pianissimo sound to the end of the hall but the granaries to my ear are like you have to tame that beast and if you don't know how to tame the beast then you're in trouble because do you feel like that's with this violin the one that you're on right now oh yes yes i mean it's just so comfortable temperamental it's like many of many great italian old instruments are like this it's not like you put your bow down and automatically sounded good in fact it's quite the opposite i would say that to uh many of the great modern instruments i played on you basically put down your bow and it automatically sounded pretty decent but the old italian you have to really search for the golden cut and uh to your opinion about the uh guanare dojisu and the strativarius i would agree but not always i mean everything has both sides and also there are exceptions of course yes just the ones that um in that episode when i was talking about the ones that i heard that day in that hall in comparison with the strat and the ordinary it was that was my observation so yeah of course it'll be an over generalization to be able to categorize those violence but i would agree with you actually i feel the same way in general because i i've witnessed a lot of concerts that we sometimes i think two years ago many violinist friends with me we we played a brandenburg sona brandenburg concerto and also the vivaldi four violins concerto with pawn chat hoops and a lot of the dream great violinist on the stage it has and we we play different instruments obviously and then you know the audience hear things from another perspective and the reaction was basically like this when you have a stradivari and you sit in the very back side of the hall you feel like the sound is filling the room it's like you cannot tell where the sound is it could be there it could be here but it's like everywhere and that it's like flying all over the place sound is always like when you have exactly and but it's not like it's not like a a cannons like in your face but the queen area is like boom it punches you right there i think i felt like i felt that too i felt that too and i know that you know you're playing on a stradivari but i would i want to geek out for a minute would you allow me to geek out with you for a minute i would love to talk about the bow that you use i would also love for the audience to know what kind of strings you use because and if and if it does have any impact on your playing your style your projection etc oh definitely and i think this is a kind of a very violent nerd stuff i would like to i'm all about that let's do it so uh so the bow was very interesting i'm actually using a bow made by hill and it's about 100 years old one of the very fine hills i've ever played so it was interesting because we were talking about the menu in competition so 11 years ago i was still a sophomore student at nec and i obviously didn't have my own bow so i borrowed this from the rooning violin shop and they were so generous um to provide me a couple of choices and so when i pick up this bow i just feel like it suddenly became an extension of my right arm because i didn't even need to think about anything the weight the balance the bouncing was perfect so i used that bow for the menu in competition and i won the gold price of course and then when i came back i had to return it that was the most painful thing i had to do and then i started saving money and luckily the bow was not very very expensive so i after about three years i was able to buy the bow myself and luckily it was still available and uh normally that's not the case i've ever seen this normally that's not the case for people who are listening for uh for you know for people who are new to us at the violin podcast that's very rare for that to happen you know a good bow when it's out on the market people are usually on trial and trying it out but you happen to get your hands on it and you claimed it as yours so you know good excellent maybe it was was it was god's thesis decision to keep foreign and exactly so i i was very lucky and in fact i've played a number of nice bows i toured picard in the past but nothing really felt so close to me as this bow so it was very special though and strings those are very important because many people underestimate the importance of the strings and the people just think if you have a nice violin any string will make it sound good and if you have a modern violin you know maybe it tends to like certain strings for me every single violin is different you have to make sure that the string is the best for your violin some violin likes a little more tension some myelin like a little looser and also the way you use your bow the way uh you you know you know how much pressure you put on your bow or how much both speed you would like to use so that really plays a major role in choosing the strings so i've been using well my starting string 10 years ago was dominant and then the peter infield pie came and then that was clearly the best choice for me so i've been using that for almost a decade almost a decade and i feel like it's the best for me i've tried many other strings they're they're nice but not like pie peter infield because it gives me so much flexibility to do what i want and also give me all these different layers of colors and i don't know if you notice that i would like to push the boundaries i would like to make the pianissimo like so soft that the audience has to do this in order to hear it and when i play for hissimo i almost feel like you know when i practice my fiance always told me that she's become deaf because i'm i'm playing so loud and i still wanted to and i still wanted to to push it so that those set of strings give me that possibility and then this year i started to using the rondo also by thomastik those that is very new those are my favorite the rondos i've i also went on the similar string journey path as you you know when i was in college i tried many different from like passionate to passionate to dominance with the gold e i tried the infield blue the infield red then and then i kind of graduated to like the peter infield the pies um he was like adg i think silver d or something and then like a different e string i can't remember what but but now i love the rondos for some reason there's just like again that flexibility that you have it's not too it's not the tension is not too much but it's not too little it's just like just enough for you to pull that sound for me i'm i'm so glad that we use the same thing and it's very warm it's it's it doesn't does not only project well but it's also has this warmth that is a little different from the pie and of course uh same as you i use different e strings i never use the original set um it's not that they're not good it's just i have my own preference uh i think the my favorite is the jager forte and uh also occasionally i i like to use the superior jagger which is the gold label and i also experienced sometimes if a certain violin has very bright e string so i will use medium but mostly of yoga fortitude
exactly when you have like a very dark violin that doesn't have a lot of top i even sometimes like to experiment um westminster which is the very very strong strength that is a very strong strain that's like
they just cut a piece of steel off the factory they just made it into a string i feel like exactly but a lot of people like to use the i know the pinchers to come and like to use it and uh the boston symphony concertmaster malcolm lowe likes to use it it's a nice string it gives you a lot of ground feeling and you know how i know that malcolm lowe liked that e-string i used to work at a at a violin shop probably you are familiar with this violin shop outside like like a few miles away from boston and he came to the shop one time and he requested this e-string and i wasn't i wasn't serving him i was simply just like you know he was working with someone in the shop of course and uh i was i saw him pick that e string and i go that's a very interesting observation i shall try it and you know what it didn't work for me but oh well it depends on the piece it really depends on the piece yeah i mean it's also playing on a stratovery also so um yes so yes before we run out of time um i do want to talk about your recent appointment uh as violinist of the shanghai quartet what an honor it must have been to you know get the call and say we wanna we wanna be able to play with you talk about that experience and what that audition process like because it's not so much a traditional orchestral audition when you're trying to feel out a chamber music group so i was wondering if you could share your thoughts on that exactly well i mean the audition process was very interesting because um it was exactly a year ago when they auditioned um various of candidates and uh yeah was a year ago in may and uh wow i felt like yesterday and uh the kovit situation was very severe and uh you know it was actually fascinating to me that we actually really were so brave and to take the the next step to actually have a live audition so everybody wearing masks six feet away and we were playing in a big church and uh that was interesting so basically i was asked to play beethoven opus 59 opus 18 and death and maiden smetana and hayden and uh greek and all that repertory just you know just come and play no no rehearsal just just play just come in and sight
and it was really um an experience but luckily that was exactly something i'm so comfortable with because my my biggest hobby is when i was at nec was to use my free time to read but with my friends and like having a chamber music reading party and i also grew up playing chamber music i was the probably the only group or one of only two groups in the middle school of shanghai conservatory who actually took chamber music classes and have my own groups and i uh you know had my own quartet for seven years until i came to the states and we actually premiered a lot of um very popular piece but it was never played in china we premiered a lot of um chairmanship works like woman hutman and those pieces in china so i i was actually um i considered myself a chamber musician i was never even thought about being a soloist actually even when i came to the states and i the reason why i i i decided to study with my dear teacher don weilerstein was part of the reasons he's the first violinist of the legendary cleveland quartet because i also wanted to you know someday become somebody like him you know a great teacher a great chamber musician great soloist great person and uh i think that was you know that really makes the whole foundation of today and uh you know of course with uh it was so interesting that um i actually never thought about being a soloist but it was him mr wylistan who actually inspired me um after one lesson um we were kind of chatting and i told him that um you know my dream is to be like you somebody like you you know a great teacher a great chamber musician have my own quartet and he was like oh that was wonderful but um but maybe you also wanted to try to play some solo because you have such a special sound that i immediately recognized when i first heard you play in the audition and i think it'll be a pity for us not to hear this kind of sound and then that really touched me so much i remember i was almost in tears when somebody like him telling me this so that was the very year i decided to apply for the menu in competition um one of one of the first major competition i i applied for and then you know somehow opportunities came and i was lucky enough to get engagements afterwards and uh so i started to play solo and it was so interesting when i first started concert hiking as a soloist most of my my classmates colleagues they already know like 10 10 plus concertos you know but i only know about i don't know three or four i'm not and i'm not ashamed of that because i've known a lot of other things a lot of sonatas chamber music that they they've never played so you know it was a fascinating experience so i actually first learned the chocolate concerto when i was 26. i've never played that before i first performed the mendoza concerto when i was 25 or 26 also so popular right but i've never performed that a lot of pieces that i've just learned for the first time after 25 so that was a very different path and probably would have shocked a lot of people to hear that right and but i think i'd rather do that instead of um you know playing say beethoven each other when i was nine and play it all wrong i never want to touch it again so i think in a way i'm grateful i i agree i feel like there's a there's a lot of maturity that goes into the violin playing and you've lived a life i think you know you live the life you understand more you know like music is life right but it's in all aspects of the you know there's over simplification of course but like you know there's so much you can say in beethoven violent concerto without having to speak any words as i'm sure you you know you can say right but there is yeah so this is really like a foundation for me so i grew up both as a chamber musician and a soloist so i think this is to having both in my life is very important so that i can kind of um be comfortable in all regions so i think the one of the main reasons why i decided to apply for the chamber mutual society program of lincoln center cameron society of lincoln center program in 2017 it's just because you know i've been playing um three full seasons as a soloist and i feel like there's something missing in my life i enjoyed playing different orchestras and traveling around the world and the kind of the spotlight of the stage that was great it was a lot of pressure but it was it feels great and also it was a huge challenge for me and made me a better player better person but part of my life is missing i feel like i'm just i just miss chamber music so much that's why i applied for that program was so lucky to to get in as one of the member of the bowers program and then you know i feel like oh now my life is so complete because i got to play high-level chamber music again um you know last year pandemic hit us very hard and this opportunity kind of came out of nowhere and uh you know normally a lot of friends of mine they were like not even thinking that i would even take this opportunity because they thought i didn't have the time and energy or maybe not i'm not even interested but only myself know myself better right so i i actually felt like this is a once in a lifetime chance for me to fulfill my dream and playing in a world-class level string quartet so i so i did the audition uh obviously the player were very happy playing with me and i also got so inspired by the quartet and uh i felt like i didn't even need to think about anything i just sit there and we kind of clicked immediately and uh so i felt like you know the the members of the quartet told me afterwards they felt like you know after we started the first note they knew that i'm the one that was alone and that was perfectly fit in the quartet just that one note it's the feeling it's a feeling it's the one the moment you all touch the string together that's fine you know you made it you know yeah i mean that that's that's just the magic of of chamber music just the way you you both the way you breathe the way you you you touch the string the way you vibrate that everything you actually know and we didn't speak a word throughout the whole when we actually played two hours non-stop fyi we actually played as much as possible you just go on and on and on and just play and we didn't speak one word just just play and i didn't even tell them oh can we use this bowling they didn't tell me where we usually do for take no no that's it and we take the repeat and the second time i did exactly what they did in the first time sometimes you know i try to match the bowling with the first valley and the first violin wants to match my voice so we actually end up backwards again that was a funny moment that was actually a very good thing that we are trying to be such a great chamber musician and and that was just great i mean the whole process was just fascinating and uh for me it was a dream come true because i always wanted to be a chamber musician have the opportunity to play in a professional group and in fact you know they also encouraged me to you know keep my my solo engagements if i have the time and energy and opportunity so i think this is really really a great thing for me and also my other biggest dream is to be able to teach and um i always you know i've been teaching since i was you know when i was in school i already started teaching i was the assistant of mr wiley fine and then afterwards i was teaching at the nec prep and mit a little bit so um this is a great thing for me that i got the opportunity to teach at the changing juilliard school we actually already started working with the students this past semester and uh it was just it felt so great because i really um loved teaching and i like to share my knowledge with my students and um it's just i think it's in many ways many dreams came true this whole whole process everything kind of fell into place truly feel grateful exactly that's wonderful and and uh before i before i let you go i just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to you know speak with me and share with your audience everything um you know you said you were a teacher and um a lot of us a lot of people are graduating this year right a lot of kids are graduating they have conservatory degrees or music school degrees and then they're asking now what right could you offer a few words of wisdom from your perspective as a faculty member of the tianjin juilliard and montclair university what do you think is next what do you what kind of advice could you give the audience well um first of all i think i'm i i've talked to a lot of students of mine and everybody knows what they want to do in the future you know their circumstance might be very different the reality might be cruel sometimes but i'm so glad that everybody i know that are graduating or just enter the university they know what kind of musician they want to be some someone just wants to be a song someone really loves playing in an orchestra someone wants to teach someone treat music as their hobby and they want to be an engineer and that's all great because they know what they want to do so that's i think the most important thing for me once you know what kind of musician what kind of person you wanted to be that's i think a great start but also as you mentioned you know after graduating now what because there's just certain number of openings in orchestra and there's just that many quartets or teaching jobs out there um and also i also went through a uh a period when my grad when i graduated from school or like the year before my graduation i tried different things not every time i worked out i tried different auditions i tried some you know open competitions i i did not advance every time i actually sometimes even didn't pass the the first round the video tape around was normal for me and i'm not ashamed to share that because it's part of life so i experienced that as well but i keep remind myself this is just to prepare for the next step something better something bigger is coming so this is just part part of the process because i keep reminding myself and then of course finally it'll it'll come your dream will come true and i think also the other thing is to believe in yourself um i know again it sounds like a cliche but i wanted to make sure i say that clearly believe in yourself don't change the way you play don't change the way you um look at music you know sometimes i would see students came to me and say oh so who and who is the judge of this competition i'm applying for and he likes to um he likes to play loud so should i play louder something like this you know don't do that because um there are so many roles all world leaders rome i would say so there's so many different ways to be successful so don't change the way you play just because so and so tend to like that and you can never predict the future i think i uh as a jury member or as a teacher i always look at each individual differently you know i'm more looking at are you believing in the in things that you're doing you know are you doing the phrase you want it to be are you making the sound that you would like to sound like so i think this those are the most important thing because when you try to imitate somebody or you're trying to be somebody else we can hear that we can see that that is not that you're not being yourself it was so obvious it's something you cannot hide you know after a while we we realized so make sure that you really believe in yourself and be the best person of yourself not somebody else and stay original people stay original exactly angelo i've taken too much of your time thanks again so much um you can learn more about angelo i'm at angelo violin.com i'll leave links in the the podcast notes but down below and if you enjoyed this episode of the violin podcast please make sure to hit the subscribe button that way you get notified when new episodes come out it also helps out the episode to provide more episodes for you um angela thanks for your time and i hope to keep in touch and stay in touch thank you yes please dude
Violinist / Soloist
Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, recipient of both a 2019 Avery Fisher Career Grant and a 2019 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, as well as First Prize in the 2010 Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, has won consistent critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience response worldwide for his astonishing technique and exceptional musical maturity. In the summer of 2020, he became the newest member of the Shanghai Quartet. He has been a faculty member of the New England Conservatory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. In the fall of 2020, he became a resident faculty member at the Tianjin Juilliard School.Mr. Yu currently performs on the 1715 “Joachim” Stradivarius violin, generously on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.
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