Fengshi Yang | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Fengshi Yang 

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FENGSHI YANG

Ever since she got her PhD in composition from the University of Chicago in '92--the first woman from China to do so--Fengshi Yang has been lying low. Instead of embarking on a high-powered academic career, as some had expected her to, she settled in a western suburb with her husband, Cheyo Wang, a part-time composer. Yang says she's happy with the routine of teaching piano privately and managing a chamber orchestra, East Meets West Music Arts, which consists mainly of emigres who've graduated from topflight conservatories here and in China. But she's still pursuing her passion and has written 20 or so works, about 8 of which are major pieces, including a concerto for harp that points to uncanny similarities between centuries-old Chinese music and postwar atonal experiments. Yang has been shaping a style that evokes, not always successfully, a Zen-like serenity, so it's not surprising that she picked "romantic images from nature" as the theme for this concert showcasing her ensemble. She and her husband have both written works for the occasion. Hers is a clarinet concerto--tailored to the virtuosic skills of John Bruce Yeh--with a famous traditional tune as a recurring motif. His is a Bartokian violin concerto that includes a folk tune most Chinese know by heart. Yang's semiprofessional orchestra, which turns a phrase smoothly and with feeling, is by no means a vanity venture. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Pfeiffer Hall, North Central College, 310 E. Benton, Naperville; Monday, 7:30 PM, auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; 630-357-6714. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Nathan Mandell.

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