Now Yuja Wang comes out in her undies

Yuja Wang came out to play Prokofiev’s 5th last night with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington.

One of our readers in the audience gives this description of her outfit: ‘all black, pantyhose, over-the-knee high heel boots, black bra and black very little and very tight shorts that look more like panties.’

Anne Midgette writes in the Washington Post: ‘The piano soloist was Yuja Wang, a brilliant artist who is fond of provoking conservative audiences with skimpy concert attire, and who on Thursday appeared to have forgotten her dress altogether and looked as if she were playing in her underwear.’


Photo: Scott Suchman/NSO

You kinda wonder why.

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    • Reviews locally say she played brilliantly. No surprise, it’s her kind of piece. Probably left the clothes off so she could do the leaps freely.

    • Yuja Wang is a genius, she could play wearing the Yellow pages it wouldn’t matter. She surely will change the stuffy harshness that so often fills many concert halls/venues. People fear her openness because they are jealous and so purged by so called tradition it impales rational thought and congruity. Her clothing is but a visual statement not necessarily of fashion it is, however, one component of her music which lends itself to her artistry and expresses her total love and complete passion for the experience the she shares with us the audience. Yuja is one with her music she is no longer separate and the music no longer belongs to the composure it one with Yuja they together are total complete entity the expression of total passion and love intertwined for the world to witness.

      • Nope.
        Rachmaninov, Liszt, Chopin, Busoni, Benedetti Michelangeli, Rubinstein, Argerich, Gould, Pollini, Gulda, Richter, Horowitz, Bronfman, Kempff belong to this category; not that chinese attention whore.

        • Interesting that your list is rather heavily weighted towards white men – no Uchida, Hess, Haskil, Hewitt, nor Landowska. You may have a problem, and judging from your choice of words, I’d say that misogyny might be only the beginning….

          • Misogyny?? White men??We’re discussing musical composition for grand piano here. A segue from that might be concert dress or the lack thereof. Your leftist fantasy politics stab in the dark is actually a very tired, uneducated attempt. If the audience were mysogynists, why then the applause? Nut cases politicize everything.

    • There are so many technically brilliant pianist around to day some as young as 16. They can play Rachmaninoff better than they can talk – or as easily. You have to get noticed some how.

      • I guess she feels she can’t do it, though, fully dressed. It’s her schtick and I’m predicting she’s ‘trying it on’ with ever more outrageous livery; watch that space!!

        An exhibitionist in the old style.

        • One day a concertmaster who, like his colleagues, has carefully put on his white tie and tails to honor tradition will say: “Just a moment, Ms. Wang. This is our concert. We dress as we do for a reason. You are our guest. Please respect our format and your fellow musicians. Return backstage and rethink your attire. We can wait. Otherwise I will lead everyone out of here and you can play solo.”

          • Ridiculous. If that is what some concertmasters want, surely they and their colleagues should demand their management to write dress codes into contracts for guest soloists to sign. Otherwise it would be extremely unprofessional for the concertmaster to refuse to play just because he/she doesn’t like the soloist’s attire.

          • No, sir….she is your *honoured* guest! She is the reason so many have paid to see her perform brilliantly…alongside…your orchestra. Otherwise it’s just another Friday (or whatever night it was!?!) night. SHE is the STAR….Gettit?!? SHE is the INVITED guest STAR!! SHE will arrange the playlist. SHE organize everything! SHE will tell YOU how it is going to go down….Gettit, stuffy?? Oh yes, and SHE WILL dress as she chooses.
            Geezis Christ, she’s one of…if not THE greatest female pianist on the planet!?! Why can’t you get that through your dense cranial feature???

          • This sort of attitude is killing classical music. With that attitude, the concert halls are going to be empty very soon. Enjoy your solitude.

        • Yuja Wang is a good pianist, and the way she dresses on stage is her schtick. It expands her bank account but diminishes her as an artist.

          • She is not a “good” pianist: she is a “GREAT” pianist! Face reality: if listeners were really attending to “hear” a pianist they could stay home and binge on videos. As a touring artist for 55 years I know that an audience is there to see something they can’t get at home. As a matter of fact, sometimes I think that audiences hear what they see. Since being there is part of the experience I see nothing wrong in enhancing the live experience. If you’ve got it, then flaunt it. And she’s got “it”.

          • Dear Peter Nero, Having heard you when I lived in NYC I appreciate your comments on Yuja. Needless to say-Right On! And Thank You for YOUR contribution to music in Manhattan and music in general with your delightful playing. You are remembered very fondly! You “got it”! (not very good grammar, but the truth.)

          • It depends. If at a concert your eyes dominant your ears, than maybe yes. However, I let my ear be the judge when it comes to musical performances. And Yuja gets my thumbs up.

          • I agree, to an extent. However, if your eye has somehow complemented what has entered your ear and brain to process, how could that accompaniment be so horrible?!? Like, eating a wonderful meal while listening to brilliant music while being tantalized by the artistry on your play?!? The ‘triple-play’, one could say???

            I sound awfully snooty but that’s not my intention. My point is, what’s so goddamned wrong with having multiple senses being triggered, if not, enhanced all at the same bloody time?????

  • Her dress-down routine is getting pretty tired and old, no? She is a gifted pianist no doubt and I, for one, will refrain from attending her appearances until such a day when the parade ends. FWIW. It’s not sexism since I did the same with Jean-Yves Thibaudet eons ago the second I spotted the rainbow socks and Liberace-glitter jackets. It helped his playing meant nothing.

      • Stay home prudes. More seats for those of us who aren’t scandalized by a bit of thigh and who can appreciate physical beauty along with technical and artist ability.

        Yuja is the rare classical performer who combines the highest musicianship with real beauty and sexuality.

        Sorry you can handle but y’all need to get over it.

        • Moronic comments. Women (or men) dressed like hookers to perform ?

          The only way they know how to get attention is NOT through their music, but through their slut shabbiness. Cheap to the core. It’s precisely the same with the crap music being pumped out by “artists” should as Gaga, Lopez and Beyonce : utter crap, dressed and behaving like depraved prostitutes.

          And these idiots complain about the male gaze, the objectification of women, and being treated as sexual puppets ?
          If they want respect, they can change their tramp gear. If they need to expose their bodies to sell their concerts, they are cheap, worthless merchandise. Little wonder young people are so utterly messed up – they feel forced to engage in sex because they are surrounded by overtly sexualised morons who trade their titillation for “recognition”.
          Crass, ugly, vulgar, and, ultimately, dumb.

    • And yet: it is talked about her!!! And that is all what it is about here.
      She is an ingenious pianist , and , as far as I am concerned, she can wear her undies, so long she playes as she does! And she DOES look gordious! So- good for her and everyone!

  • Good for her, look how much publicity she gets. In this world of noise she carries through. She plays the hell out of the piano in a world where there are many fine players and no way to stand out. Heard the same kind of stuff about Ann Sofi Mutter. Love her playing.

    • There were many, and still are some, who “stand out” in virtue of their supreme artistry. If you need to get attention by appearing semi-naked, either you know your artistry is limited (as is the repertoire for which Yuja Wang is known) or you have a suspicion it is, a deep-seated lack of confidence in the depth and breadth of your abilities. Mind you, judging by some of the comments here, her strategy for getting attention for all the wrong reasons works — she’s turned herself into a sex object, and that is sad.

      • “… limited (as is the repertoire for which Yuja Wang is known)…”

        Really? You don’t know her Beethoven, Scriabin, Brahms, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Schumann, Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Mozart, Ravel,… in solo, concerto, chamber music?

        • And that’s just a small portion of her enormous repertoire.

          Don’t confuse your objection to her appearance (which, obviously, is her business) with not knowing or hearing her artistry.

        • …….”limited … SHE IS NOTHING BUT BRILLIANT! And those ones who write negative whatever about her ARE ……. IDIOTS !

  • This seems to be a slow & long ongoing process of unveiling, and considering the only estimation where the trajectory will end, at that point she will no longer have anything to leave behind in the soloist room.

    • Probably, then she will shock audiences with outrageous long dresses, capes, hats with feathers etc. as long as there is noboby else who dresses comparaby (including Thibaudet)..

    • She’s already 30 – can’t be too many more years of the skimpy outfits left.

      Worth mentioning again, her outfits are still fairly conservative by the standards of many popular female musicians today (Kesha, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, etc.). It’s just that classical musicians tend to be out of step with the times in sartorial matters.

      • I would like to see her in concert where the orchestra suddenly stops playing, grabs her, and gang bangs her right on top of the piano in front of the audience. Yuga would love it.

  • She (or her management) is smart enough to know that her playing isn’t particularly interesting or special, so she does what she can to stay in the spotlight. The only downside is how long can she keep it up?

    • Do you really think that topmost conductors like Abbado, Rattle, Van Zweden, Pappano, Salonen, Oramo, Gergiev, Tilson Thomas, Dutoit, Noseda, Petrenko etc. etc. ask her as a soloist for their orchestras tours or concerts from year to year based on how she is dressed?

      Yuja was just a soloist for the Berliner Philharmoniker on their Asian tour and next March she is soloist for the New York Philharmonics in Beijing and Tokyo. Prior to that, she will play chamber music with top violinist Leonidas Kavakos at the European tour and the European Chamber Orchestra´s European Tour, too. Recently, she was the soloist of The Mahler Chamber Orchestra on their European tour. On 30 October I heard them in Helsinki, where Yuja played Beethoven´s 2nd Piano Concerto dressed in the same way as at the present concert in Washington DC. Yuja got praiseworthy reviews and dress was ignored in passing.

      Yuja Wang plays over 120 concerts a year around the world.Is all this possible in your opinion because of the fact that she sometimes is dressed in a way that violates traditional classical dress code? I think that the only reason is Yuja Wang´s musical genius. Unfortunately, this Genius has not yet opened up to all classical music friends whose attention is drawn to the external music aspects But I think they also have hope, because Yuja is only 30 years old.

  • She didn’t play in her undies. It’s what the kids in the know are wearing. It’s just an outfit best suited for her when she was younger. It’s okay to age with grace, and let your dress evolve appropriately with it.

    Her playing still leaves me cold although she’s come a long way over the years. Still waiting for her her play something that isn’t just all flash and trash. She thinks that she’s Cziffra reincarnate, but there could only be one Cziffra, and he had plenty to say!

  • It seems to me that there are a couple of quite sexist comments here. Why can’t you boys grow up? I have never heard this young woman, but if she plays well, there is no need to imply that you would want to leer at her. If she’s sufficiently immature to want to be deliberately provocative, it’s best to ignore the display and focus on the music.

  • Wang played ( and conducted! ) Beethoven’s piano conceri 1 and 2 three weeks ago in Eindhoven with the MCO. Excellent concert. As an encore, she gave us a splendid Grande Polonaise Brillante ( without the Andante Spianato, hélas! ). She is a great artist indeed.

  • I don’t understand why anyone cares what a performer wears. As commenters are so fond of saying, the attire doesn’t make a difference one way or the other; so why pay attention to it (even if NL puts up things like this to get clicks)?

  • A great artist is a great artist is a great artist,
    If she continues to perform well ,she will”outgrow” the attire!

  • Here goes Norman again looking for comrnents in safe fields. First Thielemann, now Wang. I bet the next one will be Mirga. Or Karajan. Four great artists IMHO.

  • Maybe just maybe Yuja Wang is being herself on stage theses days. She says somewhere that early in her career she complained about feeling uncomfortable on stage, to some senior figure who laughed right back in her face: “Feeling uncomfortable on stage is what you’re paid for! Get used to it.”

    Perhaps now that she’s found her inner exhibitionist she feels a little freer, enjoys more. Personally? I prefer that performers pay no attention to dress, hair &c, and don’t glitter. Hecker. Argerich. But it’s such a small thing.

    Any prudes out there, please read that closing paragraphs of this, from Barbara Bonney in happier days:

  • If the first thing that people always ask about a Wang concert is ‘What was she wearing?’, and not ‘What will she be playing?’, that speaks volumes. Does she first attract or seduce the audience by her attire, and is that what she wishes people to focus on while she walks on stage and poses at the piano ? She has the right to wear whatever she wants on stage and that’s what people will first notice. But I hate having to stare at bare skin and skimpy attire throughout a concert and try to focus on the music, however well it may be played. Perhaps, as someone has noted, a radio broadcast would be the best solution to end the debate. I’m afraid the jury is still out on this one.

  • One of theseach days she will appear without a top on and play topless and then of course I would think that she is doing this maintain her ratings and the music goes on despite her scant appearance which we know is her choice in how she wants to appear, but in time as she ages this might not be to her benefit. Only time will tell and of course she plays with such verve that all of this ostentatious display seems superfluous and part of the act.

  • I couldn’t care less what any given performer wears, as long as the music (and hopefully, but not always, the performane as well) is good. That being said, I often find Yuja’s outfits pretty cool!

    People have too much time in their hands if something like this makes them feel uneasy. I must also say that I’m pretty fed up with this website’s continued reporting on topics like this. Why on earth should I care – why is someone’s outfit ‘news’?

  • Why?…..because she can. And maybe, because this piece of news generates dozens of comments, while others generate just a few.

  • Everything in the musical arts has become increasingly visual, catering to our jaded senses.
    The “interpreter” ( of the music, the composer’s intent) has , sadly, been replaced by the sensory spectacle of the “performer”. You can close your eyes, or bring your binoculars- your choice.

    • Yes, just as opera stars must now be slender, and voices are not nearly as great as they used to be because the heavier singers are shunted aside….Smaller pool of “eligible singers”…Fewer truly great voices.


    • Correct. And eventually, we could possibly see her with blonde or cotton-candy streaks in her hair. In the meantime, she is laughing at the comments, all the way to the bank, and secretly (or not) worshipping Norman for all the free publicity she’s gotten. Ultimately, she’s in the entertainment business, just like the Kardashians are. And she’s found a way to guarantee sold out shows.

  • She has said before (last year’s New Yorker interview comes to mind) that she doesn’t feel as comfortable or as inspired playing in certain clothes, and maybe doesn’t perform as well in certain clothes. About a pink dress that was girly and feminine but not all that sexy: “Because of that dress, the little pink one, because it’s so different from everything I’ve ever worn, I didn’t really feel myself, and maybe that came through.”

    She is obviously choosing clothes based on what makes her feel most like herself, and when she feels good, like herself, she plays better. Why should she deviate from that?

    • My own theory is that Yuja Wang uses fashion as a means of liberating herself from the repression of her country of birth and its authoritarian culture, China.

      • That theory is utter nonsense! She has lived in North America since she was 11 and spent her formative years there. She dresses as she wishes to dress. That does not take away from the fact that she is one of the most stunning pianists of our day. Don’t like her clothes? Don’t go to her concerts – pure and simple.

        • This miss Wang is GREAT…. a truly great American performer… does not matter what she plays. We have the BEST Chinese… always had…and she knows what the public wants. I want to attend such a concert… All these prudes, they don’t know about GREAT culture… Sad.

  • How tall is Yuja Wang? Judging by the picture Norman posted here, it looks to me she would need pedal extenders without her super high heels… Or she has to sit lower and change her posture while playing.

  • If she were wicked smart she would give one interview, stating her attire being a feminist statement. Immediately no criticism anymore. 😉
    But maybe she is just honest and herself, not that calculating…

  • You know, it strikes me that Wang could select her attire to reflect the music she’s playing. For instance, for Ravel’s water sprite Ondine she could wear a long flowing white diaphanous robe; for Beethoven’s Pastorale Sonata she could wear a country maid’s outfit (or perhaps even a Bavarian Dirndl); in Liszt’s Czardas Macabre something entirely in black, with Goth makeup; and so on.

    What a shame that the Dance of the Seven Veils isn’t a piano piece. Surely her performance of that on the piano would be truly amazing. Perhaps she’ll write a piano transcription, who knows?

  • Two questions immediately spring to my mind:
    1. There is a certain dress code expected from the audiences. If you have to show up in more or less formal evening dress at the concert at the major venue, how do you feel about the soloist being at the same time half naked?
    2. If we consider that following Yuja‘s trend, some male perfomers would follow her fashion and perform a piano concerto in a black tank top and wear a shorts, how would we feel about it? And also, should they shave or not shave their legs?

    • To me at the beach a naked woman looks more dignified than one who is dressed like a slut. But the concert hall is not a beach.

      • I totally agree with you: the stage is NOT a beach. As a GREEK, you do understand what for us, Greeks, the term “dignity” means.

  • If the President of the U.S. read the Washington Post, perhaps he would skip the golf course and make a beeline for the Kennedy Center to catch Wang’s final performance there this weekend.

    Critics and pundits who moan the death of classical music should be thrilled that Wang can sell out the National Symphony’s monthly Friday noon-time concert like she did this week. The normally sleepy audience of seniors gasped when she walked on stage and then exploded in applause and shouts after her performance of the Prokofiev, as did the orchestra. Good for her!

  • I just love it how a bunch of old geezers here refer to this scrawny flat-nosed Asian miget as a “beautiful woman”. Desperate for female company much ?

  • LOKI’s comment of “scrawny flat-nosed Asian miget” brings the conversation to a whole new level. But I guess this is what Mr. Lebrecht intended. One sees two kinds in the so-called “classical music” lovers: old geezers, and riffraff.

    December 2, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I just love it how a bunch of old geezers here refer to this scrawny flat-nosed Asian miget as a “beautiful woman”. Desperate for female company much ?

  • I was there and the people loved her. Two young dudebros next to me leaned over the side of the balcony and watched her like cartoon wolves for the entire 25 minutes. They didn’t come for the Rach Symphonic Dances.

  • Decency is a big deal..
    Provocative dressing does not harmonize with the divine music a musician is called to perform.
    Sunset Boulevard?

    • After hearing [the allegation] that James Levine has sexually molested a teenage boy, I’m no longer unfortunately considering our music “divine”.

      It’s just another form of sensual music, albeit far more complex than others. Performed by the same people capable of good and horrific evil as the next people, even those on Sunset Boulevard.

      What a total, total shame. I feel as though my sense of this music being “exalted” is completely torn down. Also, reading at this website about harassment in the profession in general. There is a great deal of this. God may inhabit the music, but not the people.

  • She’s a beautiful woman and an extremely gifted pianist.
    I suppose some would be happier were she to hide herself in a burka or burlap bag.
    But that’s not who she is.
    Jealous women, insecure men: you all have your axe to grind. No one cares.
    Leave her alone.

  • Yuja Wang actually is a very good musician, both live and on recordings, as solo artist, concerto performer, or in chamber music. Perhaps, this type of “dressing up” makes concert life more enjoyable, or even fun for her.
    Why judge her on this, she is an attractive young woman and is not harming anyone.

  • She’s perfect and what she wears is her own decision as it is for every woman and every performer or should be. As to height she seems just over 5ft tall and needs those heels for healthy alignment and form playing pre made pianos.



  • The problem is, she doesn’t really have the figure for it, right?? .. does she?!
    Am I the little boy pointing at the (almost) nude piano player here or a kind of reversal of that…pointing out she has a good body for radio. right?!

    • I can’t tell if you’re a little boy or not RICHARD, but you do seem an acolyte of Hugh Hefner, maybe his reincarnation. Super-looking female figures come in many shapes & sizes.

      This has really got disgusting; I expect the controversy is to her benefit though.

  • I came from nyc to see the Saturday performance. I think Yuja is the piano genius of her generation, and seen her perform in NYC several time. At NSO she was bored, disengaged. After well with that orchestra and that conductor who can blame her. She probably ran to the Acela. The audience was stiff, no the least bit effusive, like the orchestra. Don’t count on seeing her with NOD anytime soon, she is accustomed to world class venues, orchestras, conductors, and audiences…and none of the were there last night.

  • ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH already. Two camps are bitterly opposed and will never agree. Give it a rest.

    Let’s focus on more important matters, please.

  • Who cares how she’s dressed…???? She is young, beautiful and fascinating ! Yuja Wang is the measure of all things in the entire world of classical pianists. Nobody can reach her incomprehensible technical perfection and her phenomenal expressiveness and stage presence…. nobody !!!

  • I seem to remember running across her on Beijing back page. She offers an hh special, and I understand her hjs are without compare.

  • she can come out naked. She is awesome. She is young. Who would not want to make a splash with an outfit. Diminish her? Come on!

  • Wonder why? Because she can. If she didn’t have the musical chops, it would be just a career-promoting gimmick, as some lesser classical musicians have done.
    However, she does have the pianistic creds in spades, and is now one of the most in demand pianists in the world.

  • As a nudist myself, I’ve nurtured a secret hope that one of these days, maybe before she turns forty, Yuja will take her sartorial proclivities to their logical extreme and perform at least one concert, preferably a large number of concerts, entirely without clothing (and preferably with grown-out axillary and pubic hair as well, since the shaving of body hair can be considered a falsification of the natural body in the same way that wearing clothes is). If she does this, Yuja will have written herself into musical history in not just one but two ways: not just as one of the twenty-first century’s greatest classical pianists, but as the first classical performer of major stature to appear nude on the concert stage (unless you count Friedrich Gulda as being of sufficient stature to hold that distinction; in any case, Yuja would be the first female). (And note that I’m not counting the opera stage, only the concert stage.)

    Yuja, it’s all up to you. We in the nudist community are on your side!

  • This whole controversy is so ridiculous. Yuja Wang does not dress like a “whore,” as some in this string have alleged. She is a beautiful woman, obviously, and perhaps she dresses more provocatively for the concert hall than has been the norm, but so what? She plays brilliantly, and frankly I think she is just what the classical music world desperately needs today. She fills concert halls, and she appears to understand that concerts are, after all, a form of entertainment, so there is nothing wrong with adding a touch of glamour and showmanship. Watch out prudes, or the classical music we all love so much will dry up and blow away, with local orchestras closing while you proudly note how they remained stodgy to the end. I’ve seen many phenomenal pianists over the years, including Alfred Brendel, Evgeny Kissin, and Emanuel Ax to name just a few, and Ms. Wang is as good as anyone I’ve ever been privileged to see. Astonishing, really, and such artists seem truly superhuman to me. I expect she will only get better, although that seems nearly impossible. Love live Yuja!

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