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Liang Wang

Principal Oboe

The Alice Tully Chair


Liang Wang joined the New York Philharmonic in September 2006 as Principal Oboe, The Alice Tully Chair. Previously, he was principal oboe of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (2005–06), Santa Fe Opera (2004–05), and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra; associate principal oboe of the San Francisco Symphony; and guest principal oboe of the Chicago and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras. He has performed as concerto soloist with the New York Philharmonic 23 times, including his debut performing Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto, led by Xian Zhang, in Hong Kong during the Orchestra’s 2008 tour of Asia. In addition, he has been heard as a featured player in works ranging from J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Varèse’s Octandre.

Recipient of the 2014 Beijing International Music Festival Artist of the Year award, Wang serves as artist-in-residence of the Qing Dao Symphony Orchestra, his hometown orchestra, in the 2014–15 season, at the invitation of the mayor. He was invited by the Presidents of China and France to perform Chen Qigang’s Extase with the Orchestre Colonne de France at Versailles’s Royal Opera House in March 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of France-China diplomacy.

Born in Qing Dao, China, in 1980, Liang Wang began oboe studies at the age of seven. In 1993 he enrolled at the Beijing Central Conservatory, and in 2003 he completed his bachelor’s degree at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Philadelphia Orchestra principal oboist Richard Woodhams. He is an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West, now a partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy.

Wang made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in April 2011 performing Chen Qigang’s Extase. Other recent appearances include Mozart’s Oboe Concerto with Les Violons du Roy (led by Bernard Labadie in Quebec City), China Philharmonic, and Shanghai and Guanzhou Symphony Orchestras; Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto with the Makau Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra; Mozart’s and R. Strauss’s Oboe Concertos on tour with all of China’s major symphony orchestras; and J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In December 2014 he performs Mozart’s Oboe Concerto with the New York String Orchestra, led by Jaimie Laredo, at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium.

An active chamber musician, he has appeared with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival for ten seasons, Angel Fire Music Festival, and La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, with which he premiered Sean Shepherd’s Oboe Quartet. He has given master classes at the Cincinnati Conservatory, The Juilliard School, Mannes College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, The Curtis Institute of Music, Seoul University, New York University, and the Beijing, Shanghai, Hanoi, and Singapore conservatories. He is currently on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and New York University, and is an honorary professor at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

“The most difficult aspect of the oboe is the process of making reeds. They’re so temperamental. The tip of the reed is thinner than a hair. You have to rely on it for your daily playing level; it’s like walking on thin ice.”

Interview with Liang Wang

THE FACTS: Born in Qing Dao, China. Studied at Beijing Central Conservatory and Idyllwild Arts Academy in Los Angeles; bachelor’s degree from The Curtis Institute of Music, studying with Philadelphia Orchestra principal oboist Richard Woodhams; fellow, Aspen Music Festival and School, studying with John de Lancie. Prior to the Philharmonic: Principal oboe, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra; associate principal oboe, San Francisco Symphony. At the Philharmonic: Joined September 2006. Solo debut with the Orchestra in R. Strauss's Oboe Concerto in Hong Kong on the Asia 2008 tour.

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORIES: My mother singing all the time in the house. I also remember going to a concert to hear my uncle, who was a professional oboist, play Swan Lake. It was the first piece I fell in love with. After the concert, the romantic timbre of the oboe stayed in my head — I wanted to play it and I begged him to teach me. I was seven.

FAVORITE COMPOSER: Mahler. He has every expression under the sun in his music.

HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU CAME TO THE U.S.? I was 15. I came by myself with a full scholarship to Idyllwild in 1995. I didn’t speak any English, and I had to learn quickly. But the transition was rather easy — I had left my parents at age 13 to attend the Beijing Conservatory; I’ve lived alone ever since.

WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR? My teacher, Richard Woodhams, principal oboe at The Philadelphia Orchestra; he was like a father to me in many ways.

WHAT WOULD YOU BE IF NOT A MUSICIAN? A chef. I like to throw things together spontaneously and create something I’ve never cooked before.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE ORCHESTRA: My very first concert, playing Beethoven's Eroica Symphony with Lorin Maazel. I was excited and nervous at the same time. Playing with the orchestra that I've always dreamed of joining is pretty amazing.

WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF THE OBOE? The process of making reeds. They’re so temperamental — they change all the time. The tip of the reed is thinner than a hair. You have to rely on it for your daily playing level; it’s like walking on thin ice.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY? Richard Strauss's Elektra — it's dramatic and fantastic.

ARE THERE MUSICIANS IN YOUR FAMILY? My mother was an amateur singer.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? Cook, drink wine, and play table tennis

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR MUSIC-MAKING FRESH? I try to remind myself how I felt the first day I joined an orchestra. I want to be the new guy for the rest of my career.

As of May 2013

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

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