The phenomenally gifted pianist Yuja Wang, 26, is a great friend of Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, having performed here multiple times since making her 2006 debut in a Chinese New Year concert in Davies Hall. She was MTT's chosen soloist for the groundbreaking YouTube concert he conducted in Carnegie Hall in 2009, and she toured extensively with the orchestra in Asia last November after concertizing with them as both orchestral soloist and chamber musician the previous season as a resident artist in the Project San Francisco initiative.
The Beijing-born artist's close association seems to be an enduring one, as she will be featured on three separate occasions during the current season. First up is her long-delayed (by an injury in 2011) Davies Hall debut as a solo recitalist at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The double Grammy nominee, having just released a live album of Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev piano concertos with hotshot conductor Gustavo Dudamel and his Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, is on a whirlwind North American tour that began last week in Miami, where she helped MTT open the New World Symphony's concert season. For her upcoming San Francisco stop -- the sixth on her list of 14 -- she will play a mixed solo program on S.F. Symphony's Great Performers series. Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 3 in A minor is on the bill, as are three works by Chopin -- the Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor; the Nocturne in C minor, Opus 48, No. 1; and the Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major. Wang will also play Nikolai Kapustin's Variations for Piano, Opus 41, and the "Russian Dance," "Petrushka's Room" and Shrovetide Fair" movements from Stravinsky's "Petrushka."
Her recital is likely to be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. An unabashed fashion plate (see photo) who switched one eye-popping outfit out for another during her 2011 chamber music collaboration with select S.F. Symphony musicians, Wang has indicated her alternate career choice might very well have been fashion design.
Tickets, $15-$150, are available at 415-864-6000 or www.sfsymphony.org. If you miss her this time around, there will be two more opportunities to catch her keyboard pyrotechnics this season. On March 2, she returns with Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to perform the Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 1, and she will perform four concerts in late May that will feature the same composer's Fourth Concerto.
HARMONIC CONVERGENCE: Multiple talents come together on the Hertz Hall stage on the UC Berkeley campus Sunday afternoon to bring two brand new song cycles to our attention. Renowned soprano Jessica Rivera, a favored collaborator of both John Adams and Osvaldo Golijov, joins mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor to perform the world premieres of song cycles by Jonathan Leshnoff and David Bruce, as well as the Bay Area premiere of a work by Berkeley native Gabriela Lena Frank. Leshnoff's "Monica Songs," written for Rivera, is a blend of excerpts from personal letters, the biblical Book of Ruth and the works of Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings. Bruce, a recent composer in residence at the Royal Opera House in London who has also written for Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, produced "That Time with You" for mezzo-soprano and piano on a commission from Carnegie Hall and O'Connor. Grammy Award winner Frank's new piece is called "Cantos de la Cocina" (Kitchen Songs) and comes steeped in metaphors about life, love and, yes, cooking.
Joining the vocalists as accompanist will be Robert Spano, artistic director of both the Atlanta Symphony and the Aspen Music Festival and an accomplished pianist himself who frequently collaborates with Rivera, baritone Eric Owens and other artists.
Cal Performances presents the 3 p.m. program as the kickoff of a national tour that will wind up in Carnegie Hall. Other pieces include works by Claude Debussy and Federico Mompou and duets by Camille Saint-Saens, Charles Gounod and Felix Mendelssohn.
Tickets, $32, are at 510-642-9988 or www.calperformances.org.
Contact Sue Gilmore at email@example.com.