Violinist Teresa Yang is about to go head-to-head with some of the finest young musicians across Australia.

Yang has just been named the 2023 winner of 2MBS Fine Music Sydney’s Young Virtuoso Award, securing her a performance opportunity with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a $3,000 prize and a spot in the MBS Network’s Young Virtuoso Award’s National Finals, in which she will compete with other state winners for the national crown.

Still in high school, Yang is already a formidable performer and her awards keep stacking up. In June, she was named the Senior runner-up for the NSW Secondary Schools Concerto Competition for her performance of Korngold’s Violin Concerto.

She won the 2023 National Youth Concerto Competition, after placing as a finalist the year before. In similar fashion, after winning the 2021 Encouragement Award, she took out first place in the Bach Competition in 2022, at the age of 15. She has also won the 2021 Kendall National Violin Junior Category.

Teresa Yang sits on a rock next to a tree in a forest, playing violin.Teresa Yang. Photo supplied

Speaking to Limelight, Teresa Yang discusses her win, her musical milestones, and her ambitions for the future.

Congratulations on your 2MBS Young Virtuoso Award win! How do you feel?

I feel very lucky to have won! It was an honour to share the finals experience with six other musicians I really look up to, and it was a surprise for me when my name was announced as the winner. I’m very excited to travel to Brisbane again (after having had another incredible musical experience there recently) to meet the other state winners and play some more beautiful music. 

Why did you pick Korngold’s violin concerto to perform?

My teacher and I chose to work mainly on the Korngold Violin Concerto this year as part of my musical development, and of course, I have performed it for various occasions in the past few months, including with the Queensland Youth Symphony in Brisbane. 

We chose it as it, being composed by perhaps the first great Hollywood composer, has such a diverse range of interesting colours, which I have loved using to tell a story and engage various audiences. 

What are your favourite pieces to perform? 

Everything! I have a must-play list of pieces that just keeps getting longer – and there’s just never enough time to play all the pieces that I love. I enjoy performing all different kinds of music. I have done several concerti the past few years, but I love performing anything that I can musically engage the audience with, whether it be through joy and excitement, or shared experiences of sorrow, frustration or questioning. 

Have you got any ideas of what you’d like to perform with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra? How are you feeling about it?

Recently, I have been working on the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2, which I would definitely consider performing with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra [NSSO]. But in the coming months or year, I also hope to work on the Dvořák, Sibelius or Shostakovich concertos, all three of which I really love. A lot can happen between now and the performance with the NSSO, though – so who knows? It’s possible I’ll end up playing a piece nothing like the ones I mentioned! 

But no matter the piece, I’m so excited to have this incredible opportunity to work with Dr Steven Hillinger and the NSSO. I look forward to working hard so I can play my best. 

What have been some of your favourite musical moments of your career so far?

In my journey so far, it has to be my performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto with the Queensland Youth Symphony, under the baton of Simon Hewett. In that performance, surrounded by young musicians I trust, and an audience eager to be part of the musical story, I had felt happier and more engrossed in the music than perhaps I ever have before. It showed me the incredible beauty music is capable of, when energy is put into it by a team of musicians, fully committed to the musical meaning. 

Of course, we all know that together, an ensemble can achieve great things – but it was the powerful realisation of its truth that I had on stage that made this performance a milestone for me. As a bonus, I won the John Curro National Youth Concerto Competition, which this opportunity was a part of. 

Teresa Yang plays violin on stage, her eyes closed.

Teresa Yang. Photo supplied

Have you got any favourite violinists?

I like to listen to a wide range of violinists and musicians of various instruments to widen my palette of interpretations, expressions and colours. But I particularly enjoy Anne-Sophie Mutter’s playing for how thoroughly engaging it always is, and for the colours that she creates in her sound. I also really like Sergey Khachatryan’s interpretations of the Beethoven, Brahms and Shostakovich Violin Concertos. Another violinist I admire is Emily Sun, whose soulful yet powerful playing always inspires me to work harder so that I, too, can play so movingly one day. 

Have you got any musical plans for 2024? Are there any works you’re hoping to tackle next?

In 2024, I will be in my last year of high school, which means a lot of time will be dedicated to successfully finishing my HSC and school studies. However, I also hope to expand and broaden my repertoire in the coming year, and to explore lots of pieces – from Bach to Bartók. 

What do you hope to do in the future?

Music, of course! I don’t know exactly what I will do yet, but I hope to go overseas to study in the coming years, and to broaden my options and prospects for the future. No matter what I do as a career, I hope to inspire young people to work towards their dreams. I say this because becoming a great musician has been my dream since very young, and I have been pursuing it for the past 10 years, step by step. And gradually, achieving my dream has become tangibly and excitingly closer. 

The 2MBS Fine Music broadcast of the 2023 Young Virtuoso Awards, featuring Teresa Yang’s winning performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto, can be heard here.

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