Sarah Chang life and biography

Sarah Chang picture, image, poster

Sarah Chang biography

Date of birth : 1980-12-10
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-11-02
Credited as : violinist, , Movado

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Sarah Chang is a Korean American violinist.
At the ripe age of ten, Sarah Chang is already rated one of the world's most promising young concert musicians. Chang is a violin prodigy, a riveting soloist who performs with a three-eighths-size instrument. In her 1990 debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngster drew six standing ovations for her interpretations of several technically demanding classical works. Her teachers and fellow musicians alike are astonished by her poise and natural ability. As Daniel Webster put it in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "When the violin is under [Chang's] chin, she is a commanding speaker."

Associated Press writer Kelly Smith Tunney has contended that Chang is an outstanding example of a larger phenomenon--a fascination among Koreans and Korean-Americans with Western fine arts. Tunney explained: "Encouraged by liberalization of the new democracy, by money from its economic successes, Koreans are in a maniacal rush to become the best musicians, the best dancers, the best performers. Better than the Japanese, the Chinese, the Italians and everyone else." And although Chang's parents--both born in Korea--are musicians, her success stems less from their prodding than from a love of performing and an abiding fascination with music that began when she was a toddler.

Chang was born in Philadelphia. Her family had moved to the United States in 1979 so that Chang's father could study for an advanced music degree at Temple University. Her mother too was pursuing musical studies, taking composition classes at the University of Pennsylvania. Chang's father told the Philadelphia Inquirer that as a very young child she liked to play one-finger melodies on the piano. "She wanted to play my violin," he added, "but I couldn't let her put her sticky fingers on my violin. When she was four, we rented a one-sixteenth-size violin, and she seemed naturally able to play." Chang learned the basics from her father, and in 1986 was accepted into classes at Temple University's Center for Gifted Children. Her teacher there, Julian Meyer, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Chang was "the most phenomenal talent I have seen in 19 years of teaching."

Word of the child prodigy's ability spread throughout Philadelphia. In 1988 Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster Norman Carol heard her play at a private dinner party. Carol asked the orchestra's concertmaster, Riccardo Muti, to listen to the girl. Several weeks later, Chang stepped onto an empty stage at the city's Academy of Music and stunned a small audience--including Muti--with her finesse. Her repertoire, which she had written on a sheet of paper shaped like an ice cream cone and decorated with glitter, included works by foremost classical composers Niccolo Paganini and Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, among others.

By 1990 Chang was no longer a local phenomenon. She made her debut with the prestigious New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony, earning praise from critics and fellow musicians for both performances. In 1991 she soloed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and with Muti's other symphony, the La Scala Orchestra in Milan, Italy. So far, however, only a lucky few--those who have been able to catch her live performances--have heard Chang's magic. She has, nonetheless, made some recordings with a London-based company, EMI Records. Tony Caronia, president of EMI, told the Philadelphia Inquirer: "We are recording Sarah, perhaps not for release now, but as a means of keeping in contact with her."
In 2002, she performed in Pyongyang, North Korea. Chang commented: "The concert was full of government officials. Every single last seat. It was invitation only, but it was an unbelievable experience. Frightening and exhilarating at the same time. And I just thought about how lucky I am. I am so fortunate to be a musician, and at that moment, I genuinely felt that music is the one and only universal language."

Chang took part in watchmaker Movado's global advertising campaign "The Art of Time" with Pete Sampras and composer Wynton Marsalis. For the 2004 Olympics, she was selected to carry the Olympic Torch in New York. In 2005, Yale University dedicated a chair in Sprague Hall in Chang's name. Following this, Chang toured for a year with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a Sextet programme of summer festivals leading to a concert at the Berlin Philharmonie.

Chang had her recital at Carnegie Hall on April 7, 2007 with British pianist Ashley Wass, and continued to perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen and make appearances with the former at both the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall throughout 2008. From May 2009 to June 2010, she held recital tours across Europe, North America and Asia with pianist Andrew von Oeyen; a July 2010 recording of the two was eventually released. In the February 12, 2010 program, she held her recital at the Barbican Hall in London. Chang made an appearance at the University of Southern California in March 2010, where she played Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26. She performed at the Hollywood Bowl in August 2010.

Chang has handled the publicity heralding her triumphs--and the pressure--with a grace far exceeding her years. Her parents have said that they are trying to keep her formative years as normal as possible. They have also encouraged the youngster to keep her options open and to explore other possible careers as well as music. With that in mind, Chang attends grade school in the Philadelphia area and studies music on the weekends at New York City's famed Juilliard School. "I come home and do my homework, practice some and play with my little brother," she told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It seems unlikely that Chang will opt for a career outside music. She is gifted with a natural talent that is the envy of many an adult musician, and she can handle solo work with poise and flair. In his story on Chang, the Inquirer' s Webster concluded that "performing is a kind of exhibitionism. The player has to be convinced that her message is too important to be kept in private." He added that Sarah Chang "has the natural performer's exhilaration at standing up and playing."

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