From China with love … of classical music

Two Trojans will bring ultra violins and cause pianist envy among Monarchs in October.

By Jessica Perez, Contributor to the Star

Yabing Tang’s proudest moment may have come at the Premio Paganini International Violin Competition in Genova, Italy.

“It was two movements from the Bach Sonata No.2 and three Paganini caprices. I was simply enjoying the music; I forgot everything around me, it was only me and the music and the emotional moment I brought to the audience.”

She received the Best Interpretation for Paganini Caprices prize, the greatest gift she could have asked for on her 25th birthday.

Sisi Ye was only 4 when she was motivated by the piano’s variety and wide range of sounds to pursue it. Her first competition was at age 5. Though she doesn’t recall much, she was moved by an audience member who offered kind words after her performance. She realized she could reach the audience through her music.

At the 2012 USC Thornton School of Music Concerto Competition, she performed a piece by Beethoven.

“It was was the first time I got to choose the piece I wanted to play and I won playing my beloved Beethoven!”

The talented USC students and roommates will perform together at the Recital Hall at Valley College Oct. 7. The friends are also in a piano trio and plan to record their first album next summer in their home provinces of Guangzhou and Guangdong, Southern China. They’ll be mainly focusing on French masterpieces by César Franck, Claude Debussy, and Maurice Ravel.

Ye is 32 and will graduate by the end of this year; Tang is 25 and will  graduate by 2017.  Their instructor, Midori Goto, encouraged Yabing to play at the October recital at Valley College, and Yabing asked Ye to join her. They declined to specify their program, but the repertoire will includeworks from the Baroque and Romantic periods, as well as some French music. Tang said the selections show how the two instruments collaborate and how they create different sensations together.

Both musicians’ dedication to their craft is rigorous. Before a performance, Yabing rehearses four-to-five hours a day.  There will be one hour of basic technique, such as scales, then she will fix issues by going through different pieces with the metronome.

“It’s is the moment that every cell of my body focuses on practicing,” says Tang. “It feels nothing can disturb me from practicing, my ears keep listening, my brain keeps trying to figure out what the issues are and how to make things better. It’s intense but very satisfying!”

Right before a concert, she avoids eating and only eats bananas two hours before a performance. Ye will rehearse a difficult technical spot intensely and generally practices eight hours per day for two months to be fully prepared.

“A pianist should devote mind and body in every practice session; it’s physical and intellectual but can be transcending for an artist,” Ye says.

Yabing Tang and Sisi Ye perform Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. at the Recital Hall. Admission is free.

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