Pianist Jiongli Wang to Perform with Oberlin Chamber Orchestra

Program also includes world premiere work by composition student Cashel Day-Lewis

May 2, 2024

Cathy Partlow Strauss ’84

portrait of pianist Jiongli Wang standing in front of a grand piano
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Each spring, Oberlin orchestras feature four student soloists who have been awarded the honor in the annual Senior Concerto Competition. On Friday, May 3, the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra performs a program that will showcase fourth-year pianist Jiongli Wang in Frédéric Chopin’s First Piano Concerto. 

Oberlin Orchestras Director Raphael Jiménez has also programmed Ludwig van Beethoven’s compellingly rhythmic and inventive Symphony No. 7, as well as the world premiere of Black River Prelude, composed by fourth-year composer Cashel Day-Lewis, commissioned by Oberlin Conservatory in honor of the Lorain County Bicentennial. 

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Finney Chapel and is free, open to the public, and streamed live at concert time.

Meet the soloist

Born in Wenzhou, China, Jiongli Wang started to play the piano at the age of 6. From 2017 to 2020, he studied at Gulangyu Piano Academy at the Central Conservatory of Music. Wang is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree at Oberlin Conservatory, where he studies with Professor Alvin Chow. He has performed in major concert halls in China including Shanghai Concert Hall, Gulangyu Concert Hall, and Ningxia Grant Theatre, among several others. He has attended several piano festivals, including Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival, Adamant Piano Festival, Shanghai International Music Festival, and Europe International Music Festival. He has been honored to play in master classes for well-known musicians such as Lydia Artymiw, Kathryn Brown, Angela Cheng, Marc-André Hamelin, Douglas Humpherys, Ewa Pobłocka, and Mikhail Voskresensky. At Oberlin, Wang has been a prize winner of the 2022 Peter Takács Beethoven Piano Competition and 2023 Arthur Dann Competition, in addition to the  2023 Senior Concerto Competition.

Q&A

What was your reason for choosing the Chopin first piano concerto?

Chopin's First Piano Concerto is undoubtedly one of the most popular piano concertos in the world. He composed this work at the remarkably young age of 20. Despite his youth, the concerto exhibits not only passion, but also a maturity and depth of emotion that belies his age. These qualities deeply resonate with me, and more importantly, this concerto offers the performer an incredible opportunity to showcase their creativity. Listening to and playing this concerto is such fun, and I never grow bored discovering new things in it.

What has the piece taught you about your playing and how to reach an audience?

Music is the art of sound and time, each of which needs to be balanced in delicate proportion. Alongside the emotional depth, mastering various sound qualities is required. Every time I play Chopin's First Concerto, it's an experimentation with different touches in order to explore more possibilities. Moreover, this piece has also taught me about the proportion of rubato. Playing with an orchestra makes it impossible to do the same rubato as in a solo performance. It requires maintaining the steady pulse of the music as well as having flexibility in tempo. Reaching an audience is always a major concern for a musician. For me, aside from fine technique and a wide range of sound, it is even more crucial to play with authenticity and sincerity. 

When you think back on your time at Oberlin, what stands out about the experience of going to school here?

Undoubtedly, I've had a very memorable study experience at Oberlin. The vibrant and inclusive community fostered a sense of belonging that enriched both my academic and personal growth. Oberlin Conservatory gathers a group of talented musicians, and I truly felt inspired by my peers. In addition, Oberlin offers an excellent academic environment. The world-class faculty challenged and mentored me to expand my knowledge and develop my skills. Most importantly, many thanks go to my teacher Professor Alvin Chow, who provided me with extremely valuable guidance. Under his tutelage, I’ve cultivated a deeper understanding of music. His unwavering support and encouragement empowered me to push beyond my limits and I’m deeply grateful for his mentorship.

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