Culture\Music and Theater

A new album offers a classical treat for clarinet lovers

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-16 07:19

So, in September 2016, Wang visited Schubert's grave at the Vienna Central Cemetery, where he also found the graves of Johann Strauss II and Johannes Brahms.

"When I was told that Schubert was first buried next to Beethoven, whom he had admired all his life, in the village cemetery at Wahring, Vienna, I also went there and spent a few hours there," says Wang.

Wang, who is married to former Olympic gymnastics champion Liu Xuan and is the father of a 2-year-old son, considers the album to be a reflection of his life.

Born in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Wang, who is nearly 40, studied the cello and the erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument) in his childhood besides the clarinet. Ever since he first performed onstage at the age of 9, he wanted to make music his career.

In 2011, as a visiting scholar, Wang studied with two-time Grammy-winning clarinetist Richard Stoltzman as his first Chinese student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, which is among the oldest independent schools of music in the United States.

Two years later, Wang returned to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing as a teacher.

Speaking about his music career, he says: "The clarinet is not as popular as the piano or the violin in China. So, I didn't have opportunities to play onstage.

"I once even thought that my career as a soloist had ended since I could hardly concentrate on my music, which was really frustrating to me."

But in 2015, Wang had a turning point when he signed a contract with Universal Music and released a crossover album, Night & Day, featuring 10 tracks with the clarinet in a leading role, supported by pop, rock and jazz.

Commenting on that album, Ye Xiaogang, a renowned composer and vice-president of the Central Conservatory of Music, who has known Wang since he was young, then said: "I am proud of him. This album is a new start for him."

Ye is the mastermind and driving force behind the Beijing Modern Music Festival, founded in 2002 to promote modern works and support young Chinese musicians.

Wang will go on a national tour from March to September to promote the album, with his last stop at Beijing's National Center for the Performing Arts.

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