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Spellbinding pianist Joyce Yang returns to perform with NZSO

In 2017 acclaimed pianist Joyce Yang mesmerised audiences and critics when she performed for the first time with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Now the Grammy Award nominee returns in April to perform Johannes Brahms’ grandious and exciting Piano Concerto No. 1 with the NZSO in Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.

Yang is the star soloist for NZSO Music Director Edo de Waart’s Masterworks concert tour Enigma, which also features Edward Elgar’s famous Enigma Variations and Richard Strauss’ haunting Serenade for Winds.

In 2017 Yang’s performances of Sergei Rachmaninov’s technically challenging Third Piano Concerto with the NZSO impressed audiences and critics in every city she played.

“The ideal soloist.” The New Zealand Herald.

“Yang gave a performance of great cohesion and … displayed superb technical assurance.” The Dominion Post

“She was absolutely on top of the physical demands of the piece.” The Press

“From the very first mesmerising opening bars, Yang delivered the famous work with unbelievable virtuosity.” The Otago Daily Times

Enigma will see the South Korean pianist reunite with Maestro de Waart, whom she first worked with 10 years ago when he was music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Yang was very keen to perform Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 for her return tour. “I feel so good about my instincts when I'm playing with Edo. I'm grateful when he says, ‘Joyce, just do it’,” Yang has said.

The piece, which Brahms wrote in 1858 while in his early 20s, was not well received at the time but has become one of the best-loved and most frequently performed piano concertos in the world.

Since her 2017 NZSO tour, Yang has been nominated for a Grammy and continues to work with the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles. Her recent collaborations include Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and as guest artistic director for California’s Laguna Beach Music Festival, highlighting the relationship between music and dance.

Elgar’s famous Enigma Variations consists of a Theme and 14 Variations. Each variation is a musical sketch of a different person in the composer’s circle of friends. Elgar began composing the work unconsciously while playing on the piano. His wife Alice Elgar liked what she heard and encouraged him to keep working on the piece. It is now regarded as one of the greatest of all English orchestral works.

“I love Elgar. He writes wonderful music,” says Maestro de Waart.

Variation IX Nimrod was the inspiration Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer’s score for the 2017 film Dunkirk.

Strauss’ Serenade for Winds was written when the composer was just 17 and one of four he wrote for wind ensembles. Strauss had expert knowledge on hand about wind instruments as his father was principal horn at the Munich Court Orchestra.

Tickets to Enigma are available via ticketing agencies (Dunedin, Auckland, Wellington) and (Christchurch, Hamilton).

On 4 April in Christchurch the NZSO also presents In Conservation with Joyce Yang at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Yang will talk about her career and passion for music. Hosted by NZSO Section Principal Trombone David Bremner, the evening includes music from NZSO players. Tickets are $35 or $25 multi-ticket. To book call the NZSO on 0800 479 674 or email

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