Pianist Ying Li performed at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series on July 5, 2017. Li was born in China and currently studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. As a soloist and chamber musician, she has performed at numerous festivals and with many orchestras.
Click here to listen to Ying Li's performance via the WFMT podcast. The program she selected featured works from Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin.
Read our conversation with Li below.
Picture this Post: When did you start playing your instrument?
Ying Li: I was 5 years old when I was first introduced to piano, and I fell in love with the sound of the instrument since then.
Where were you born/where did you grow up?
I grew up in China and received my early musical education there until I came to the U.S. when I was 14 years old.
What have been the major competitions you have won or other milestones in your career?
I never thought about a career as a pianist until I won a competition in Russia when I was 11. It was held in St. Petersburg, named “A Step Towards Mastery.” That’s where I realized how much I enjoy performing on stage – how much I enjoy carrying out music as a universal language. My recent big achievements are my winning of the first prize at the Artist Series of the Sarasota National Competition (May 2017), and soloist debut with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (April 2017).
When you are not rehearsing or performing or doing other things related to your musical career, how do you spend time?
In my spare time, I like to take walks to visit museums and explore historical sites.
Please tell me about each piece in your program. Why did you choose this piece and what do you hope the audience hears in it?
Schumann Fantasiestucke Selections - I chose excerpts of Schumann’s wonderful set of character pieces to start the concert, hoping to prepare and lead the audience into a very dramatic musical zone. The first excerpt is called “In the Evening” and it creates this dreamy atmosphere that makes everyone drawn in. The second excerpt is called “Soaring” and it is greatly in contrast to the previous one. This one is full of energy and sweeping gestures. These two excerpts are excellent examples of Schumann’s schizophrenic nature – one very shy, whereas the other one is very bold.
Chopin Sonata no. 3 – This sonata is by Chopin and is absolutely one of the greatest compositions of all. It consists of 4 movements and each has such a strong individual character. It is a very demanding piece, not only musically, but also technically. The first movement is grand in shape, in gestures and in length. The scherzo second movement is fast like wind with a choral-like middle section. The third movement is just gorgeous, filled with beautiful melody lines, accompanied by a floating bass. And the last movement is full of agitation and brilliance, marking a triumphant ending. I chose this piece because I feel like the emotions Chopin create in the music speak directly to me, and I hope, as a performer, I could bring this beautiful music to the audience.
All photos courtesy of Ying Li.