Wang Liang comes home to the oboe

By Chen Nan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-10-27 07:45:57

Wang Liang comes home to the oboe

Wang Liang, principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, performs at the Beijing Music Festival. [Photo/China Daily]

Wang Liang clearly remembers a story that his late oboe teacher, John de Lancie, the former principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, told him years ago.

In 1945, De Lancie, then 24, and the principal oboist of the Pittsburgh Symphony, was posted in the village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, as a soldier toward the end of World War II.

Wang Liang comes home to the oboe

New soul of Shanghai 

Wang Liang comes home to the oboe

Finding her voice 

During one of his visits to Richard Strauss' home, he asked the German composer if he had ever considered writing an oboe concerto. Strauss, then 81, said no. But six months later, Strauss finished the Oboe Concerto in D Major, and the autograph of his score read: "Oboe Concerto 1945 suggested by an American soldier."

Wang, 36, is now the principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. The Chinese-American performed Strauss' oboe concerto with the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Zhang Guoyong during the ongoing Beijing Music Festival, to loud applause from the audience at the Beijing Concert Hall on Oct 18.

"With the story from my teacher, I have never felt so close to a great composer," says Wang, who also performed two other Strauss pieces, Serenade in E flat major for chamber orchestra and Symphony No 1 in D minor for large orchestra. Both works were completed by Strauss when he was 16.

They were performed in China for the first time. The three works trace Strauss' career, Wang says. In 2006, Wang became the youngest principal oboist for the New York Philharmonic.

According to Tu Song, program director of the Beijing Music Festival, Chinese audiences aren't familiar with Strauss, nor the flute-like oboe.

"For most Chinese audiences, the oboe score from the ballet Swan Lake is the most they know," says Tu. "We want to offer them a chance to know more about oboe works."

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