Oberlin

Jon Jang '78, piano


Jon Jang began playing piano at the age of 19. After two years of study, he was accepted as a piano performance major at the conservatory and received the Lydia Lord Davis Scholarship. He graduated with a degree in piano performance in 1978, and, in 2001, became the first conservatory alumnus to receive the Distinguished Achievement Award.

Jang has followed his own path of creating music, which has become “two flowers on a stem,” a metaphor expressing the symbiotic relationship of his cultural identity and musical aesthetics as an American born Chinese. During the past 25 years, the work of this pianist and composer has chronicled the Chinese immigration experience in the United States. Jang's works also honors the legacy of African American music and social justice. The Ford Foundation in 2006 selected Jang as one of five mid-career artists to receive a Visionary Artist award for his contributions.

The premieres of Jang's Chinese American Symphony was commissioned and performed by the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007, and the Oakland East Bay Symphony in 2008. The work honors the Chinese who built the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.

Jang has recorded with Max Roach, James Newton, David Murray, and Billy Hart. His ensembles have toured at major concert halls and music festivals in Europe, Canada, China, South Africa, and the United States. Jang was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, as well as a visiting lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Irvine. He is featured as a composer and public intellectual in Deborah Wong's book, Speak It Louder–Asian Americans Making Music, published by Routledge of New York and London.

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