Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu will be performing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Abilene Philharmonic on Saturday, April 17 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Angelo recently shared how he got started on the violin, his award-laden 2019, and more.
Q: What drew you to the violin over other instruments?
A: Every instrument has its own characteristics, but the violin is the closest instrument to the human voice. Instead of “playing” on an instrument, I feel like the violin is an extension of my body.
Q: You began your studies in Shanghai before moving to Boston to receive your bachelor’s, master’s, and Artist Diploma. What similarities and differences did you notice between studying in Shanghai and studying in Boston?
A: I think things are already quite different today compared to 20 years ago. When I was studying in Shanghai, teachers put more emphasis on building a solid foundation of technical abilities. Also the goal for most young musicians is to become a soloist. After I moved to the States, the education I received was relatively freer in terms of having a variety of styles and sound. Chamber music plays a much more important role in our student life. Of course, it’s hard for me to compare my experience between middle school years and college years, but I really think both places have their own strength.
Q: 2019 was a huge year for you, as you received an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award. Many artists would be happy to stockpile those accolades throughout a career, yet you have managed to do it at a remarkably young age. How did you feel receiving those awards?
A: Honestly, I couldn’t believe my ears when I received the calls from Lincoln Center. I thought it must be my jet lag! It took me a while to really believe it and to receive two major awards from such a prestigious organization means the world to me. It is a huge honor, but also a motivation for me to strive for higher excellence.
Q: 2020 has been a wild year for virtually everyone, but during the summer you joined the Shanghai string quartet. What led to this, and how has that experience been so far?
A: It has been an amazing experience. Chamber music has played such an important role in my life. Even though people read all about my experiences as a soloist, many people don’t know that I started my own quartet at the age of 13 and continued for 7 years until I came to the States. I think it is indeed a dream-come true for me, being able to enjoy more chamber music with such an amazing group as well as continuing my passion as an educator at two excellent institutions.
Q: What advice do you have for musicians seeking a solo career in classical music?
A: Believe in yourself! It may sound like a cliché, but it is really important. For example, a former student of mine one day came to a lesson and played completely like another person (not in a good way) just because he did not make it to the finals in a competition, and he was trying to imitate the style of the 1st prize winner. Everybody is different, there are so many great ways to become a great artist. Imagine how boring it would be if there was only one way of making music! So don’t let failure change who you are.
Q: What is your favorite city you have visited throughout your extensive travels?
A: Wellington, New Zealand. In my opinion, the most beautiful city on earth and the most comfortable place to live.
Q: If you played another instrument, what would it be? Why?
A: Probably piano, so that I don’t have to carry my own case – instead, I only need to bring my hands when traveling!
Q: If you have any spare time, what non-music hobbies do you have?
A: I really love cooking because I’m a foodie! I also like to hike. It’s the best way for me to relax and think. I’m a big NBA fan, so I watch a lot of basketball games, and I get very intense when the scores are tight!
Contributed by Richard Reidl/Abilene Philharmonic