Fury as Yuja, in dark glasses, blanks her audience

The attention-seeking pianist came on stage in sunglasses at her Vancouver recital on Friday night and refused to acknowledge the audience.

They grew increasingly resentful.

Here’s a vivid post from the conductor Tania Miller:

Last night I attended a Vancouver Recital Society concert with Yuja Wang performing. I was looking forward to hearing her perform. When she walked out on stage with sunglasses and a direct approach to the piano, quick bow and immediate performance with no acknowledgement of the audience, I thought it was quirky. Some of the audience tittered at the thought that this was some sort of cool new dress code.

But with each subsequent work that she performed, she stood up, bowed quickly without a smile, and when she left the stage she walked with clear body language that shut the audience out. When the audience continued to clap to bring her back out on stage, she refused. The effect was shocking. As each subsequent work was performed and this pattern continued, it became clear that she was shutting the door on her audience.

I heard later that she had trouble with the Canadian border getting into Canada. She was obviously angry. But Yuja Wang, you must not forget that the music is the most important treasure. And that some are bestowed with the ability to share it and it is an honour and a blessing to do so. Your innocent audience, some donning masks to protect themselves from the potential Coronavirus, came to be in your presence for this sold-out concert, and to hear the music and extraordinary talent that you had to share.

Instead they experienced the rejection of an artist withholding the permission to share in the feeling, transcendence and the shared emotion of the beauty, joy, and humanity of music.

UPDATE: Yuja: I was humiliated

UPDATE2 Conductor apologises for dissing Yuja

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  • Muzak says:

    Zsolt Bognar posted this on Facebook:
    “In response to some of the animosity here in the absence of information about what happened, I must respond. I spoke to Yuja this morning for nearly an hour. If you understood the shocking incident of what she went through upon arrival to the airport, you would understand that any other artist would have canceled the concert. Instead, she chose to play–yes, out of devotion to her audience–and since she had been in tears the whole day, she needed sunglasses. We are working on a potential press release right now. Please consider being kinder before pouncing to judge, truly and especially in this situation.”

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Zsolt, you’ve had accurate information about what happened from a respected conductor who was in the audience. All else is window dressing.

      • Tomas says:

        But the two points are complementary, aren’t they? That’s how the concert was experienced… that’s what caused the distress. I see no contradiction

      • V.Lind says:

        I think that is a little unfair. Mr. Bognar is recounting the experience of the artist not long after the whole thing. Are you discounting her in all this? Is her version “window dressing” while Tania Miller’s is given the imprimatur of Holy Writ?

        Surely we have all read in recent weeks about absurd discriminations against Chinese people, whether they have been anywhere near China in recent memory or not. Something about some Chinese Germans refused entry to Vienna despite not having been to China for ages. People avoiding Chinese restaurants run by people who have been their neighbours for years.

        Customs officials are unlikely to be the most sensitive of interrogators of anyone they might deem “suspicious.”

        Apparently in other countries examination of passports has been insufficient for easy if any transit. I would not like to go bail on Canadian Customs officers ever having heard of Yuja Wang.

        I have crossed many borders all around the world, including in Communist countries before the Wall came down. Despite being a Canadian citizen, I never had a worse grilling (aside of course from entering the US — long before 9/11) than I got when re-entering Canada after an international trip. These guys are tough, though in my case polite.

        She could well have been given a very bad time. Yes, I think a pro should have shaken it off. And this was a “make-up” recital for the one she cancelled due to health issues in mid-2018. I would have thought that once she got into the music, she might have recovered some of her equilibrium.

        But I do not know her, and I do not know what she went through at Customs. She turned up, she performed, and an innocent audience was perhaps treated with a rather chilly attitude. People are human and they have temperaments. We have all seen people in various walks of life exercise a bit of temper or withdrawnness when something is upsetting them. Musicians are not saints, above human reactions to life.

        Ms. Miller is an accomplished and highly regarded conductor, but she is one person and I do not see how her take on the evening, accurate though it may be, trumps the experience of the artist. And, as a musician, she might have commented on the quality of the music — though her comments imply that it was okay. Too early for reviews — if there are likely to be any (doubtful). And a scan of Canadian media has not yet thrown up any comment on this, though it is still early in Vancouver.

        As for the masks — I expect Ms. Wang will also see some tonight in San Francisco. Both these cities have huge Chinese populations, with dozens of flights in from China every day. People are wearing masks in a number of cities around the world. I very much doubt that any offence was directed at Yuja Wang for whom, after all, they turned out.

      • Ricardo says:

        We perceive our perceptions.

      • Lang Lang Fan says:

        Norman, her account isn’t accurate at all, it’s very subjective and biased. Only Yuja can know why she acts a certain way. As long as she shows up and plays great, nothing else matters.

      • bratschegirl says:

        Ah, well, if a Respected Conductor has opined on the situation, then obviously nothing else could possibly be relevant.

        • RW2013 says:

          Indeed, this Respected Conductor’s career and provincial talent will ensure that she will never have to cross any borders.

        • I missed the concert says:

          Bratschegirl, you are very funny and wise!
          As I’m sure you know, Respected Conductor is not a professional critic. And rather than sharing her opinion amongst friends, she wrote that hurtful commentary on her public, internationally available social media page.

      • Kenneth Wood says:

        So, you’d call Yuja’s own account of things “window dressing”? How very enlightened of you. Maybe you ought to take the time to learn the why of a situation before you jump to conclusions. Obviously, this was out of the norm. You don’t think this warrants further explanation? I knew from the second I read “The attention seeking pianist may have gone one gimmick too far…” that this was going to be a completely biased blathering. You should really check yourself, because it would seem YOU are the one in need of controversy (gimmickry) to draw an audience.

      • I hope at your next bad performance, people come on line to trash your appearance.

        Oh, right, you don’t perform at all. You’re a critic. Respected or not, prolific or not… you’re not one of us. Sorry.

        Come back when you actually know at all what being on stage is like. Until then, you’re little more than a gossip.

      • L Beck says:

        You are correct . . a conductor. . . who only in performance has to wave her arms and get a performance out of each and every member of the orchestra being conducted by her. . . . If by chance an entire orchestra, each and every individual member, had just been traumatized to a loss of sense and identity and composure by an overwhelming force of authority, it would be interesting to know just what performance this conductor would get out of that orchestra.
        There’s nothing easier than waving your arms about and asking other people to deliver their skills resting in their hearts and souls and minds and experience. There’s no greater window dressing than a Pavlova of a maestra ! Get to your senses, man!

      • Tamino says:

        Mr. Lebrecht, said respected audience member attributes the quick bows to the special occasion, the artist shutting the audience out, so she knows nothing about Yuja’s signature quick bow and is thus an irrelevant and negatively biased source.

      • Scott says:

        Your comment is window dressing & unworthy of respect.

      • Meredith says:

        Norman, Elton John wears sunglasses on stage, playing piano. Nobody ever would say he “shut out” his audience. Neither did Wang.

      • Ally says:

        Lord save us……..and the point to critics would be what exactly, when they rely on second hand testimony without checking any facts?? Oh, and I’m guessing Ms Millar (whoever she is) has never had an off day in her puff before. As if I wasn’t already despairing of humanity…

      • armchair critic says:

        Shut up nigger

    • Anmarie says:

      What a true friend Zsolt Bognar is!

      And how rare.

    • MacroV says:

      The CANADIANs treated her this way? Wow, it’s usually us Americans who do this. I guess there are morons everywhere. Maybe she should have made some jokes about it at the show; audience would surely have been on her side.

      • Willymh says:

        we actually don’t know what way she was “treated” or what happened. I find it fascinating that the CBC, our national broadcaster, did not jump on this story as they normally love to get their teeth into anything that involves Canadian Customs and Immigration. If you are referring to the masks please see previous comments I’ve made on the fact that masks are being worn throughout Vancouver not just at concert halls.

    • Jay says:

      Reading all this nonsense concerning a so so piano player has moved me to tears and I cannot find my
      sunglasses…what to do ? what to do ? She chose to play out of devotion to her audience had me laughing all morning. Isn’t there a play titled
      Much Ado About Nothing ?Yuja should read it.

      • Gina says:

        A so so piano player?What are you talking about? She is considered the most gifted pianist in the concert world today! She is the new Martha Argerich.

      • Kenneth Wood says:

        Obviously, you’re a so-so human being with only a percentage of the talent Yuja holds in her little finger or you’d be on the stage instead of her. She chose to play while most “artists” would cancel. That’s really all that matters. Take you b.s. elsewhere.

        • adista says:

          Wait, you actually think think the most famous artists are famous because of their talent? Sometimes yes, often no. There’s a LOT that goes on behind the scenes. Amazing how naive people can be…

      • Grace says:

        If your mouth can’t bring forth good, keep it shut.

    • Lausitzer says:

      What’s the point of this whispering about some “shocking incident” and “working on a potential press release” which then will presumably never appear? Why not simply telling in plain English what happened at the airport? This complete failure of crisis communication for such a high-profile artist is stunning.

    • Kolb Slaw says:

      Sounds like nothing more than vanity, and still, a complete failure as a performing “artist.”

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Diddums. Even the Germans could perform during WW2.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Thank you so much, Zsolt (and Muzak for providing his viewpoint). Bravo to Yuja for not cancelling!
      And shame on you both, Tania and Norman, for not taking one second to consider Yuja’s personal human feelings regarding how she was treated at the Canadian airport.
      Are Yuja’s feelings to be dismissed as merely “window dressing”?
      I wish the constant sneering disrespect to Yuja on this blog would cease. Is it because she is a she? Is it because she is of Chinese extraction? Is it jealousy of her physical beauty? Is it envy of her musical gifts? What’s the deal here?

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I can understand her irritation if people are donning masks to attend her concert.

    • WillymH says:

      Vancouver has an extremely large ex-pat Chinese community many of whom travelled back to China for the Lunar New Year. A good number of people are wearing face masks in the streets, at markets and on public transport particularly in the Chinese community itself. And i believe i you read the article her concern was not audience related but to do with border procedures.

    • Patrick says:

      I was at the wonderful concert and did not see one person with a mask.Who makes this stuff up? Trumpians?

  • Paul Dawson says:

    The quality of her performance is what matters. Her sunglasses and body language are of little consequence.

    • Calvin says:

      Yuja has never been one to stand there like a statue wishing to be a monument, waiting for the applause -not- to end. David Hume referred to “a restless appetite for applause” as “one of the lowest of human passions.” Even when circumstances dictate that more than a quick bow is called, for example when she returns to the stage with the conductor after a concerto, a sheepish humility is often plain in her body language.

  • I have seen her several times in concert. Even in the good day she don’t stay a long time on stage and run outside and come back etc… It could be a little bit strange for the audience. I had also this impresion with Sokolov. But him wanted also to be in the dark.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Several soloists have rather odd behaviour on the stage vis-a-vis recognizing the audience and the audiences applause. However, for many performers I can imagine they actually find the audience a little intimidating.

  • Alexander says:

    …..respected madame Tania forgot to say how was the music. All the rest is just , as Norman said, “window dressing”. I hope the quality of the music Yuja performed that time was excellent.
    PS … can we have the brand name of those sunglasses she wore – personally , I prefer “Ray Ban” ( high quality performance since 1936 😉 )

    • Tomas says:

      Ray Ban? God I hope she can afford better than that

      • Alexander says:

        dear Tomas, Ray Ban is a european respected brand, much more respected ( speaking of sunglasses only) compared to Armani and Gucci, it’s like wristwatches – nobody of the royals never wear Rolex. They will rather take Longines ( which are mostly cheaper). The matter is personal taste and style. Money is nothing – attitude is all 😉

        • The King says:

          Not true, I know plenty of royal who like Rolex. See Prince Andrew et al

        • LewesBird says:

          Dear Alexander, Ray Bans were last “respected” in the 1980s, maybe at best in the 1990s. They’re now a brand favoured by parvenus, nouveaux-riches, Russians, Chinese, and other crass and unspeakably vulgar deplorables. I hold hope you’re not one of them, but it looks like you might be. It all started around the turn of the millennium when Ray Ban decided to impose its logo, with no possibility of recourse, both in white paint on one of the lenses, and in bad-relief, painted gold no less, on both temples. Hitherto the logo was printed only on the inside of the temples, so unless one knew to recognise there shape, one didn’t know. Then the love of bling arrived and that’s when Ray Bans became show-off instruments of the atrociously vulgar. What a pity. So sad.

          • The King says:

            Alexander is one of those people.
            Rolex worn by Prince Harry, Prince Andrew, Princess Diane, Princess Beatrice.
            Longines for poor wannabes like Alexander who pretend to have style.

          • Jonathan Sutherland says:

            Firstly, the correct title for the late wife of Prince Charles was Diana (and definitely not Diane) Princess of Wales. She was not a born princess, but a member of the British aristocracy who to her ultimate misfortune, happened to marry the heir apparent. Secondly, I thought Slipped Disc was supposed to be a site for serious music discussion, not a metaphoric mud-wrestling venue to bicker about such banalities as brands of watches or sun-glasses.

          • Alexander says:

            apparently you , dear LewesBird, find Rolex fitted to your style and belong to the few of royals who do that ( alongside with prince Andrew et al as the King said 😉 ).
            I wear “New Wayfarer” for its classical ( some say “iconic”) shape and do like it. Nothing is eternal, so I have a modern edition with all ( much hated by you) logos both in white paint and relief ;). And I cannot see any bad in it 😉
            Hopefully lovely Yuja ( who is ethnically Chinese) take your rude words in stride and doesn’t pay much attention to the crass speech your posted here .
            As for much loved Russian people I reminisce “Countess from HongKong” film with Sophia Loren as Natasha Aleksandroff to imagine the characters . Audrey Hepburn also had much in common with them and ( in my opinion) Simon Baker too ;).
            Good luck to you in your idle attempt at wearing platinum “Bentley” or “Lotos” edition on your (evidently not noble) nose and defining my social and ethnic status 😉
            PS Rolex is a proud sponsor of many operatic prizes and events ( good for them) , any way I don’t think I will like to wear it , just because of my personal attitude to the abstract concept of simplicity and elegance. Some like and that is good, taking the diversity into account 😉

          • Willymh says:

            Gosh after my cataract surgery I had to get a pair of sunglasses and I chose RayBan. Now let’s see I’m not a parvenu, Russian or Chinese just a poor bugger who couldn’t stand strong sunlight for at time; the glasses looked fairly good on me and were affordable and available. Does that make me crass and an unspeakably vulgar deplorable or atrociously vulgar? I’m not sure but I think there may be a one word not load with adjectives for what that comment makes you – but it’s not a word I use that often. So we’ll just leave it at that.

          • V.Lind says:

            Prince William wear LGR sunglasses — very chic. Wonder if Yuja knows them.

        • Bill says:

          Yeah she should wear some really expensive glassed to impress you. Keep in touch with yourself.

  • X.Y. says:

    Treatment on the border can be outrageous. I believe every word that Zsolt Bognar writes. I have the greatest respect for Yuja Wang and for what she does for music and humanity. Besides artists are not there to flatter the audience, but to present works of art. Great male pianists like Grigory Sokolov or Anatol Ugorski also do not and did not bother to lose much time acknowledging the applause. This disturbes nobody. But since Yuja is female other laws seem to apply.

    • John kelly says:

      Yep I’ve had ludicrous overscrutiny at Canadian passport control myself….my guess is she won’t be returning. I suspect her ethnicity may have been a factor…..I have no idea but I wouldn’t be at all surprised. This nonsense about Canadians being so friendly only applies once you’ve got in!

      • V.Lind says:

        Yuja is a frequent visitor to Canada and has long and warm relationships with several orchestras and conductors. This, I suspect, is probably due to the current Covid-19 panics — see two stories posted after this one about theatres closing down IN EUROPE. And her ethnicity. If it was anything else she would probably have been mad, not upset.

        But I think she will be back to Canada. And — please — do not judge ANY country by its border controllers.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        “Do you know who I am”? She could have used that!!

      • Karl says:

        I’ve made about 1000 trips to Canada and they gave me a hard time only twice. My guess is that they are concerned about the corona virus right now.

    • I missed her concert says:

      Thank you for your comment. I quick bow is not unique to Yuja Wang, but her artistry is uniquely incredible. I had to miss her concert, but I heard she played beautifully, and had a very good reason for her unusual demeanor and attire.

      The judgemental slamming of her on the above quoted social media post is in very poor taste, and very upsetting, so I’ll stop typing now!

  • Chris Isbell says:

    We human beings are fallible, have bad days, get upset and sometimes do things we later regret. Kindness and compassion from others is the best response. One day it will be us in the situation.

  • Tamino says:

    audiences can be so annoying. Artists are humans, not objects one buys a share of with the ticket.

    Sometimes artists feel horrible, just like anyone else.
    Most people at work then just try to get through the day somehow. But they don‘t have to perform in front of a thousand people who expect smiles and kisses.

    Being an American of Chinese origin and seeing people wearing masks against a China born virus in your audience might feel offensive.
    Also the „quick bow“ is kind of her trademark, she does it always, regardless of the mood of the day.

    • WillymH says:

      Before you turn this into a “racist” incident Vancouver has an extremely large ex-pat Chinese community many of whom travelled back to China for the Lunar New Year. A good number of people are wearing face masks in the streets, at markets and on public transport particularly in the Chinese community itself. I am guessing that there were members of that community – which are well known for their support of classical music – in attendance and possibly wearing masks. And I believe if you read the article her concern was not audience related but to do with border procedures.

      • Tamino says:

        facial masks are as helpful against infection as glasses. virus can enter through mouth, nose AND eyes. so she did the right thing. 😉

    • Piano fan says:

      Yes, I’ve seen the quick bow several times. Sometimes, her descent is so rapid I’m startled into thinking she’s about to fall over.

      Yuja Wang is a magnificent pianist and has displayed considerable musical growth in recent years. Yet the usual suspects harp over her couture and stage manner. Maybe it is THEY who lack musicality?

  • Chuck says:

    A bow is an acknowledgement of the audience. Last Sunday Wang performed in Chicago, and while not sporting sunglasses, she did do quick bows to the audience upon each entrance, and then sat down to play the piano. This is the reason I attended the performance, to hear her play the piano, which she does, shall we say, rather uniquely well? As far as I’m concerned, Ms Wang can show up in cut-offs and a sweatshirt if she wants, with or without sunglasses. She did wear two quite striking dresses though. She obviously enjoys the clothing aspect of her presentation, good for her, why not? I like it too. On Sunday in Chicago, the audience was absolutely spellbound on every note of each work she performed. It was completely mesmerizing, fun and enriching. There was a program insert that stated (in effect) that Wang would not be performing the works in the order listed, but rather whatever felt right for her at the moment (why wouldn’t any listener not want that?). I would have been fine with no scheduled works listed at all, just play what you want to play at the moment. If the musician is playing something he or she is in the mood to play, everyone benefits. Yuja, if you are reading this, please come back to Chicago anytime you like, with or without sunglasses, and play whatever you are in the mood to play, we love musicians such as yourself.

    • Anon says:

      Wouldn’t it be amazing if she actually did read your comment, was really touched by your gallant support for her, and then proceeded to e-mail you to invite you for cocktails with her at The Four Seasons?

    • Brettermeier says:

      “Yuja, if you are reading this, please come back to Chicago anytime you like, with or without sunglasses, and play whatever you are in the mood to play, we love musicians such as yourself.”

      I attended a chamber concert last year, and it was kind of “off”. Some bad vibe, as if there was some strong argument amongst the ensemble right before the concert and it was to be continued post-concert. They did not have fun on stage.

      The concert was ok, music-wise, but only that. The audience could hear the bad vibes.

      In other words, I prefer musicians in a good mood. But sometimes, they are not. Happens to the best of us.

  • Max says:

    If she was so traumatised by it, she should have cancelled.
    Nothing is professional about her behaviour during that concert.
    Professional would have been to deliver the same standard (also in the way she appears on stage) that she delivered to the rest of her audience.

    • Paul R. says:

      Cancelled hours before the concert? I can see the reviews now…

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Just bizarre to claim that cancelling is more professional than going on stage and playing. To be honest, I am not too bothered what the performer does when they are not playing. Although I do appreciate performers who do not prolong the applause.

    • Nusir Bag says:

      Which part of this retort suggests that she played below her average? Why is her music being judged on the brevity of her now?

  • PHF says:

    You can’t have both, saying that you could have cancelled the concert but didn’t and be stupid like that. It seems that she played only to get her money and leave. Either you cancel and expose the situation or get over it and do your job in spite of your personal problems.

    • V.Lind says:

      She had had to cancel at VRS in May 2018 due to health issues. I imagine she felt very committed to fulfilling this date — she played in California the night before and again tonight, so could probably have used the time off but I think she is in Europe for the next couple of months so it probably made sense when originally scheduled.

  • Patrick says:

    Pardon me while I find a tiny, tiny violin with which to play a sad song for Yuja Wang. She is paid well. Tough it out, Ms. Wang.

  • Michel says:

    Sunglases for a classical concert ! What comes next ? Will she play in Bikini ? That’s just ridiculous ! I have never fully understood all the fuss about this pianist because, for me, her pianoplaying is just average.

    • Candidum says:

      You don’t deserve to enjoy Yuja Wang.

      You are not only musically deaf, you lack the empathy to grasp how a sensitive and acclaimed artist could by upset by
      an hour and a half spent with Canada’s ill-educated border authorities.

      She wore the sunglasses because she had been crying for hours after her shameful welcome at YVR. Get it?

  • Alviano says:

    But what happened at the airport?

  • Willymh says:

    Sorry but where is the “fury” expressed? What exactly in this report – aside from the titters describes the reaction of the audience? Aside from the respected corresponded who was shocked? Sorry I’m trying to link the headline to the report itself – no connecting.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    No mention of what dress she was wearing or if she performed in sexy high heels.

    Citizen reviews are going downhill these days.

  • Willymh says:

    Several people on here have picked up on the members of the audience wearing masks and are seeing it as an insult. Vancouver has a extremely large Chinese community and many, as is the tradition, returned home to China for the Lunar New Year – a few of my acquaintance have described how bleak Beijing was with very few festivities etc. At the moment it is not uncommon in Vancouver to see people in the streets, at the markets, at events and on public transport wearing masks and that includes a goodly number of members of the Chinese communities. As these communities are also known for their support of the arts, particularly classical music, I would dare say that a fair number of the audience were from the Chinese-Canadian community and many would have been wearing masks. I would be very surprised if many were wearing one because an artist of Chinese heritage.

  • Gerald says:

    Frank Sinatra once said that the only thing he owed to his fans/audiences was his best performance.

  • Karajon says:

    So, what could had been so bad at the border? Did they measure her temperature? She had to open her suitcase?

    • Guest says:

      Those were rhetoric but “great” questions. Perhaps a person could find out the answers, when he/she is being under similar 1+ hours of scrutiny at YVR. Well, it’s unlikely exactly the same treatment, but at least a taste of what that was like, anyway. Oh, and then, he/she had to do an important job a few hours after that … professionally.

  • David Gordon Duke says:

    I was at the recital, though not as a reviewer. What I heard was a wonderful, brave program given by an exceptional talent

  • Really? says:

    Sounds like that audience (or that one commentator) should get over themselves.

    Many great pianists of the past had awkward stage conduct. If they need extended faux turned on smiles and sycophancy they should join Donald trump at the next miss world competition to get their dose topped up.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Perhaps they’ll just do what compassionate (cough) Democrats like Clinton (and others) do and abuse everybody referring to them as a ‘basket of deplorables’ in ‘fly-over territory’. In my 70th decade and I have never, ever heard a leader or potential leader of the USA ever refer to his/her own people that way. The Dems need a generation out of office for that remark alone.

      Puts the Wang criticism into perspective, doesn’t it.

      • Me says:

        On the day when your country has finally condescended to vote in favour of legislation making lynching a federal crime 120 years after the first time such legislation was proposed, I don’t think the likes of you should pat yourselves on the back over your supposed ‘enlightenment’ just yet! You have a far longer way to go than even Clinton suggested.

    • Willymh says:

      Again where are we getting the “audience” reaction other than the fact that a few of them tittered when she first appeared with sunglasses on. The rest is the opinion of the writer and her own indignation. From what I understand the audience was very appreciative of her performance.

    • Gordana says:

      What a ridiculous comment! I was wondering when the President Trump will somehow be brought up!

  • christopher storey says:

    How is bowing a “refusal to acknowledge the audience in any way “? What else was she supposed to do ? Blow them kisses ? This thread really is a grave error of judgement

  • M McAlpine says:

    ‘Music is the most important treasure’. I suppose this is why Ms Miller doesn’t mention the music and how Yuja Wang actually played? If she is so concerned about the music why doesn’t she at least tell us what the playing was like? At least Wang turned up to play. I booked for a Richter concert and on the day found Richter had suddenly cancelled, something I believe he made a habit of doing. And of course, when he did play, it was in a blacked out hall. So let’s not be too hard on Wang for playing in sunglasses.

    • John Dalkas says:

      I saw Richter play a mesmerizing concert by candlelight in Paris. I went for the music, not for a show.
      I couldn’t care less what Wang or any other musician wears or their attitude on stage; I’m interested in the playing.

    • Me says:

      She didn’t even mention *what* Wang actually played, come to that…….

  • Deitrich says:

    Yuja Wang ALWAYS does quick bows. We heard her in Miami with New World, where she has played numerous times. Even MTT and the orchestra did a Wang “quick bow” in response to her “quick bow” at the close of the concert. The audience loved it.

  • Bruce says:

    But what did she wear? (Besides the sunglasses) We all know from reading SD that that’s the only important thing about any Yuja Wang performance

  • I missed her concert says:

    Any one who has seen Yuja Wang perform will know that she often enters the stage and bows very quickly, and can seem dismissive of the audience, and she is not the only pianist who behaves in this way!

    I couldn’t attend her concert at the Chan Centre on Friday evening, but I know someone who was there. According to her she performed an eclectic programme exquisitely, and returned to the stage and played encores. Also, she did indeed acknowledge the very appreciative audience. This is second hand information, of course, but from a musician I trust. I hope someone who was actually there will comment here on S.D.

    She had a good reason for wearing sunglasses, and it would be best for the public to hear the reason from either her or her representatives, and to not shame this lovely human being on social media.

    I’ve heard what she went through immediately prior to her recital, and I’m surprised that this wonderful artist didn’t cancel after being treated so horribly.

    Does anyone else think it is very strange that the writer of this disgraceful social media post did not comment on Yuja Wang’s playing?

  • Carlos Solare says:

    If this had happened to one of your pets you would now be raising hell against the airport staff.

  • Caranome says:

    The dress. What about the dress!?

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Well, Tania, put yourself in Yuja’s Jimmy Choo’s for a moment, and stop your so imperious “shoulding” all over her. Despite being mauled by crass immigration officers who didn’t give a rats behind about who they were dealing with, and the fact that Yuja was understandably terrified and humiliated by the experience, she went ahead and did the performance – so for crissakes scrap your hauty lecture and show some compassion. The concert was simply too soon after such a raw experience for Yuja to exhibit happy-go-lucky stage presence. Yes it would have been better had the audience been prepped about the incident, and that’s the fault of the presenter, not Yuja. Surely Yuja would have preferred to have cancelled, but due to her last cancellation there due to exhaustion, she clearly felt (or was strong-armed) that she simply had to go through with it.

  • MS says:

    From Yuja’s Facebook:

    It is difficult for me to share this with all of you, but given the circumstances, and harmful speculation and criticism being shared online and elsewhere, I feel it important that the following is made public.

    On arrival at Vancouver International Airport on Friday, I was detained for over an hour and subjected to intense questioning which I found humiliating and deeply upsetting. I was then released, giving me very little time to travel to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. I was left extremely shaken by this experience.

    When I was dropped off at the venue for my recital that evening, my eyes were still visibly red and swollen from crying. I was in shock. Although I was traumatized by what happened, I was determined not to cancel the recital, but to go ahead with the performance and not to let the audience down, which included my dear teacher Gary Graffman. I decided that wearing sunglasses was the only way to prevent my distress from being seen, since I wasn’t yet prepared to make a statement about what happened.

    My main concern in that moment was to give the best performance I possibly could, and not to allow the audience to be distracted by my swollen eyes or visibly shaken demeanor. It would never be my intention to snub or disengage with an audience. Everything I do on stage is about connecting with people. My audiences and fans sustain and nourish me as an artist.

    I am deeply grateful to Leila Getz and her team in Vancouver, and to the audience there with me in the hall for their support throughout the day and evening.

    My recital tour will continue, and I look forward to bringing my program to the audience in San Francisco tonight, and on to New York.

    Thank you to everyone who has sent or shared words of support during this difficult time. I know that I am unfortunately not the only person to have had this kind of traumatic experience, which has shaken me to my core. My heart goes out to anyone else who has, and my hope is that by sharing what happened to me, there can be a much needed conversation and change in protocol to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

  • Dave T says:

    Big deal. I attend for the music, not to have the artist acknowledge ME. How ridiculous.

  • Nimbus says:

    She probably was under some substance, hence the sunglasses

  • Manfred nottebrock says:

    It is difficult for me to share this with all of you, but given the circumstances, and harmful speculation and criticism being shared online and elsewhere, I feel it important that the following is made public.

    On arrival at Vancouver International Airport on Friday, I was detained for over an hour and subjected to intense questioning which I found humiliating and deeply upsetting. I was then released, giving me very little time to travel to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. I was left extremely shaken by this experience.

    When I was dropped off at the venue for my recital that evening, my eyes were still visibly red and swollen from crying. I was in shock. Although I was traumatized by what happened, I was determined not to cancel the recital, but to go ahead with the performance and not to let the audience down, which included my dear teacher Gary Graffman. I decided that wearing sunglasses was the only way to prevent my distress from being seen, since I wasn’t yet prepared to make a statement about what happened.

    My main concern in that moment was to give the best performance I possibly could, and not to allow the audience to be distracted by my swollen eyes or visibly shaken demeanor. It would never be my intention to snub or disengage with an audience. Everything I do on stage is about connecting with people. My audiences and fans sustain and nourish me as an artist.

    I am deeply grateful to Leila Getz and her team in Vancouver, and to the audience there with me in the hall for their support throughout the day and evening.

    My recital tour will continue, and I look forward to bringing my program to the audience in San Francisco tonight, and on to New York.

    Thank you to everyone who has sent or shared words of support during this difficult time. I know that I am unfortunately not the only person to have had this kind of traumatic experience, which has shaken me to my core. My heart goes out to anyone else who has, and my hope is that by sharing what happened to me, there can be a much needed conversation and change in protocol to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

  • What a load of entitled self-righteous bollocks. Next they’ll be complaining that Iggy Pop wears sunglasses.

  • Yukioxi says:

    From what i read onher insta, she had an intense questioning session at the vancouver airport that had left her quite shook. She allegedly wore the sunglasses to hide the swelling and redness of her eyes. You may not believe her but ika give her the benefit of the doubt, uf thats how she felt fr, then your comments are very disrespectful as she did her best just to show up and not leave you all disappointed.

    And dont give me this “the music is the best treasure” bullshit. A persons feelings is more important than their performing imo. Their performance STEMS from their emotion, their love. She is not a trick pony, she is a person.

    Have some decency about yourself and stop with this immature behaviour.

  • J.S. says:

    Boredom as lone internet blogger judges a pianist by her glasses rather than her music.
    His readers grew increasingly tired and quickly moved on to something actually worth reading.

  • Blueclarinet says:

    Couldn’t care less. You had troubles in the border, child? You cry and then you smile at your audience. They don’t care about your life. They want to hear you play, they want the connection with you. Your problems are your problems. I have played in orchestra the day my sister died in a car accident in another country and the day my father died of cancer. I gave a recital the day after my apartment was destroyed by a fire started by a psychotic neighbour in his own apartment. Yuja, you just sound like a spoilt child.

  • Alan says:

    “Attention seeking” huh? After the trial she went through just attempting to get into the country? Fuck the author of this article and fuck this publication. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

  • jansumi says:

    Vancouver Recital Society
    ·

    We are so grateful to Yuja Wang for being the consummate professional during her all too brief time in Vancouver on Friday evening.

    We have received so many comments from patrons who attended the recital, glowing about how wonderfully she performed and asking for her return.

    It saddens us to read all of the mean-spirited commentary online and we want to make it known that the VRS has nothing but the highest regard for Yuja as a person and an artist.

    All too often, people forget that musicians too, are human. We all have good and bad days and it is a testament to her strength and character that she chose to press on despite the terrible treatment she received.

    We are sharing her words describing her experience, and ask that everyone take a step back and try to imagine how they might have handled a similar experience.
    Yuja Wang
    ·

    It is difficult for me to share this with all of you, but given the circumstances, and harmful speculation and criticism being shared online and elsewhere, I feel it important that the following is made public.

    On arrival at Vancouver International Airport on Friday, I was detained for over an hour and subjected to intense questioning which I found humiliating and deeply upsetting. I was then released, giving me very little time to travel to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. I was left extremely shaken by this experience.

    When I was dropped off at the venue for my recital that evening, my eyes were still visibly red and swollen from crying. I was in shock. Although I was traumatized by what happened, I was determined not to cancel the recital, but to go ahead with the performance and not to let the audience down, which included my dear teacher Gary Graffman. I decided that wearing sunglasses was the only way to prevent my distress from being seen, since I wasn’t yet prepared to make a statement about what happened.

    My main concern in that moment was to give the best performance I possibly could, and not to allow the audience to be distracted by my swollen eyes or visibly shaken demeanor. It would never be my intention to snub or disengage with an audience. Everything I do on stage is about connecting with people. My audiences and fans sustain and nourish me as an artist.

    I am deeply grateful to Leila Getz and her team in Vancouver, and to the audience there with me in the hall for their support throughout the day and evening.

    My recital tour will continue, and I look forward to bringing my program to the audience in San Francisco tonight, and on to New York.

    Thank you to everyone who has sent or shared words of support during this difficult time. I know that I am unfortunately not the only person to have had this kind of traumatic experience, which has shaken me to my core. My heart goes out to anyone else who has, and my hope is that by sharing what happened to me, there can be a much needed conversation and change in protocol to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

  • HOMEWORK says:

    I look forward to Tania Miller’s next performance as a conductor, with Yuja Wang as soloist. Should be interesting

  • Benjamin Steinhardt says:

    So typical…police a woman’s choice of dress and then take the word of a spectator over her own.

    Richter is a genius when he plays in blackened hall. Yuja needs to smile more.

    Her having been harassed to the point of tears matters not. What is important is she didn’t fawn enough over her fans.

  • Janos G. says:

    If Yuja had a history of being a prima donna, this rush to judgement may be understood, but she is NOT in the least a “star” (except in her performance).

    Once you know what happened and if you can imagine being humiliated for “traveling while Asian,” surely you’d appreciate the effort it took to go on and play the recital… apparently in superb form, even if her body language was not to your liking.

  • Mark says:

    Oh, for Pete’s sake – on her FB page, she says she was subjected to “intense questioning” by the Canadian Customs and her eyes were swollen from crying.
    Apart from the fact that we don’t know the reason for this questioning (as if St. Yuja is incapable of fault. Has anyone considered that she might have violated the Canadian law in some way?), the crying part is ridiculously childish. Did they torture her with water or did they use the Spanish boot ? Oh, poor baby had to answer a few questions …
    What silly, immature behavior …

    • Denise says:

      You obviously learned nothing about empathy growing up. And I also feel sorry for you, that you don’t know what music is really about, and that you are so close-minded that you are missing out what is important, not just in music, but in life. Instead, you and such others look only at what is on the surface… a very shallow life, indeed!

  • Nusir bag says:

    Attention seeking pianist?!!!
    You’re a pathetic speck of dust!
    She’s the best we have. And she had a traumatic experience at your airport. She wasn’t angry. She was traumatized and devastated.

  • jaynettagami@yahoo.com says:

    Please wait before you write news of this sort, and learn what made her wear sunglasses! Friends/fans of Yuja know she had been detained for over one hour at the Vancouver Airport and questioned. She made it to the concert hall and didn’t wish to disappoint her audience. She was so shaken and crying from the incident, she had to wear her sunglasses to hide her red and swollen eyes. You will find her own story if you research. She was gracious in writing about this incident, as she always is. You might apologize for your quick print.

  • Mark says:

    Norman you are an idiot. She wore sunglasses because her eyes were so red from crying after being humiliated at customs. Find out the facts before you make a jerk out of yourself.

  • Bill says:

    She had a really bad experience and clearly it affected her deeply. She did the concert as best as she could I’m sure and you should applaud her courage and determination. Remember that she is human like the rest of us, well, not exactly, but we praise her heart when she’s playing but you would condemn that same heart here. Give her a break Sir.

  • Musician says:

    Artists are so fed up of being told to be perfect, and to conceal who they are or what they are going through from the public, because service to the music and audience demands it. What a load of nonsense. The general public has absolutely no idea what an artist goes through in the hours before a concert. For pianists, that means dealing with the modern nightmare of travel, jet lag, exhaustion, lugging cases around,
    finding practice time, trying to eat well somewhere near the hall, getting used to an unfamiliar instrument in a matter of hours (most of the time they are not great) and, later, dealing with critics who, of course, know the mind of a dead composer better than the artist up there doing it and are determined to have the last word, often published before the artist has even boarded the plane. The touring life for top soloists is hideous these days, mainly because service has gone to hell across almost all sectors associated with travel. Don’t even start me on US border control, and the lines, and the attitude. And the fees are not always what the public might think. (The UK is the worst culprit, paying insultingly low fees for the honor of being invited to grace its mostly dilapidated halls. You’re supposed to just be grateful to be invited. And the mere act of getting around there is enough to kill the spirit of any visiting artist). So, please, show a bit of respect for artists, most of whom never even hint at what they have to put up with before walking out there at 7.30 and being world class…. and charming, and beautiful, and not too fat but not too sexy, and whatever else is expected in today’s world..

  • Ugh says:

    I am SO SICK of people pretending Yuja Wang is a bad musician for how she dresses.
    Have these authors have never been harassed, let alone DETAINED, because of their race? If so, did they go on to give a virtuosic performance within hours?

  • Ding says:

    Never judging a person before you know what really happened.

  • Arthur Radley says:

    Miles Davis did entire concerts with his back to the audience. Madonna has gone on stage two hours late. Classical audiences are a pampered lot.

  • Lisa MacKinney says:

    You might like to read her statement (below, from Instagram & Facebook) about this rather than leaping to conclusions based on your assumptions about her supposed attention seeking:

    It is difficult for me to share this with all of you, but given the circumstances, and harmful speculation and criticism being shared online and elsewhere, I feel it important that the following is made public.

    On arrival at Vancouver International Airport on Friday, I was detained for over an hour and subjected to intense questioning which I found humiliating and deeply upsetting. I was then released, giving me very little time to travel to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. I was left extremely shaken by this experience.

    When I was dropped off at the venue for my recital that evening, my eyes were still visibly red and swollen from crying. I was in shock. Although I was traumatized by what happened, I was determined not to cancel the recital, but to go ahead with the performance and not to let the audience down, which included my dear teacher Gary Graffman. I decided that wearing sunglasses was the only way to prevent my distress from being seen, since I wasn’t yet prepared to make a statement about what happened.

    My main concern in that moment was to give the best performance I possibly could, and not to allow the audience to be distracted by my swollen eyes or visibly shaken demeanor. It would never be my intention to snub or disengage with an audience. Everything I do on stage is about connecting with people. My audiences and fans sustain and nourish me as an artist.

    I am deeply grateful to Leila Getz and her team in Vancouver, and to the audience there with me in the hall for their support throughout the day and evening.

    My recital tour will continue, and I look forward to bringing my program to the audience in San Francisco tonight, and on to New York.

    Thank you to everyone who has sent or shared words of support during this difficult time. I know that I am unfortunately not the only person to have had this kind of traumatic experience, which has shaken me to my core. My heart goes out to anyone else who has, and my hope is that by sharing what happened to me, there can be a much needed conversation and change in protocol to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

  • Wiggins says:

    I bet she had no problem collecting that fat Canadian paycheck despite whatever “problems” she might have encountered at Customs. She needs to go away, period. An annoying individual and an average pianist who plays with far too much tension in her hands, IMO. No wonder she has never won a Grammy.

  • Stuart Alcock says:

    I was mesmerized by her approach to an ambitious program. The music was wonderful. Yes, her focus was on what she was playing and hearing — in keeping with her note to the audience. We were rewarded with two encores. Ms. Miller’s comments about COVID-19 are a nasty distraction. As the information about Yuja Wang’s experience at the border emerges, I think her focus on the music and the performance was understandable and greatly appreciated by many more than me. Your description of fury seems feeble at best

  • Stuart Alcock says:

    Feeble sensationalism was what I intended.

  • Yael Swerdlow says:

    Yuja Wang is first and foremost a human being! She suffered a traumatic, humiliating attack, and should be commended for not cancelling her concert!

    • Karin Becker says:

      What is humiliating about giving information to the security organs of a democratic state in troubled times?
      Miss Wang is quite robust, otherwise she would not get through her professional life at all.
      The victim role doesn’t fit.

  • Cdc says:

    NL is always obsessed with Ms. Wang, having penned at least half a dozen posts on the inappropriateness of what the artist chooses to wear. Then you have the respected conductor condescendingly giving advice to a major artist what she must not forget about music. I wonder if they would talk about a non Asian artist of such stature in this manner.

  • Jack says:

    Yuja is Norman’s click bait. Works every time.

  • Francois says:

    More Lebrecht gutter “journalism”.

  • Suogalana Egami says:

    Norman Lebrecht – “attention seeking pianist”, “one gimmick too far”, “refused to acknowledge the audience in any way”…

    All loaded phrases. Looks like you either got up on the wrong side of bed, have an axe to grind, have a chip on your shoulder, are a hack yellow-press writer, or are racist. What is it, because what you just said was poor journalism, even, hack journalism. It wasn’t about Ms. Wang’s performance, it was about your emotions, wasn’t it?

    Did you get upset because you didn’t get properly entertained?

    Have either of you seen any of Ms. Wang’s youtube videos? She is a gentle, kind, funny, passionate, sincere person. She is absolutely one of the finest pianists alive on the planet. Her Flight Of The Bumblebee (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yZPrrboTkY) is one of the single hardest, most technically brilliant 1:40 minutes of piano playing available on earth. She is really good. Khatia, Valentina, Anna, Lola, Annie, Alice, and the godmather of them all, Martha… what do they have that you, dear Norman, do not? They have real talent. All you can do is write hack reviews. I mean, really, who gives a rats a** what you think? Do you produce anything of value, other than peckish criticisms?

    If she was sad, it was because she had gotten traumatized and was unable to give the love to the audience the way she usually does. I mean, who would wear sunglasses at a concert unless their eyes were puffy and red and embarrassing. Yuja loves her audiences, and she loves to communicate with them. You implied it was a cheap stunt. Shame on you.

    What do you love, dear Norman? Do you love it when people think you are an authority because you can write about something? Fact is, almost anybody can write a little article about something. This does not place you in a lofty position. It means you can produce conversational English, just like most high school students.

    Writes who gain respect earn this status because of their capacity to empathize, encapsulate, enrichen, enlighten, reveal, broaden, etc. Did you do any of that? No. You just bitched, the low road, the easy road.

    Poor N. Lebrecht. You didn’t get your ya-ya’s, didn’t get your stroke, and know you are fussy and peeved. Too bad.

    You and Ms. Miller didn’t get the “service” that you thought you deserved. Awwww, I feel so bad for you.

    How about this: Artist so-and-so gave a lously performance last night. Apparently, artist so-and-so broke his left wrist getting off the bus. The wrist was taped, and the artist was whacked out on oxycontin, but managed to play the gig. All I can say is, it was really a drag to see that gross tape wrapped on the wrist, and the playing was totally subpar, almost like the artist just really didn’t give a darn about the audience, maybe wanted to deliberatly irritate them. A totally crappy performance. I’m going to go home and burn all their CD’s…

    Or:
    At the ball game last night, the great baseball player Mr. So and So was struck out in the ninth. I was so peeved. He was supposed to hit the little white ball so my, I mean, his team could win, but he didn’t hit the little white ball… what a lousy baseball player, he looked stupid, his clothes were stupid, he couldn’t even hit the ball, what an overrated loser, made me almost regurgitate my ball park franks, I want my money back…

    I wasn’t there, I didn’t see the concert. However, I’ve run into plenty of people with your “type” of attitude. You think you are special, priveleged. You went to a concert, YOU DESERVE TO BE ENTERTAINED. It doesn’t matter what happened behind the scenes, if the artist can’t give you your pretties, then badmouth them, because, like, you were just totally ripped off by Ms. Wang, weren’t you, just completely burned, and you have every right to be furious with this wretched “performer” who dared to not give you, the Pentultimate Big Dude of The Universe, the show you deserved.

    Poor little wretched man. I play a small, very small, sad violin for you and the laughable Ms. Miller. You poor, small people.

    Out of some 7.5 billion people on Earth, there are maybe 12 who can play as well as Ms. Wang. You, good sir, are not one of them. I’ll venture a guess that you can’t play anything other than charades. And what is Ms. Miller’s excuse? She should know better, but again, I guess she is fussy because she is a primadonna, and didn’t get the audio treatment that a member of the royalty, like herself, deserved.

    Yuja Wang got some major emotional distress at customs, it bummed her out, she couldn’t do her job. She would have perferred to do her job, it’s what she lives for. She couldn’t do it, and YOU got upset? Oooh, sooo sad for you.

    Both of you remember this: a century from now, Yuja Wang will be listed in Wikipedia as one of the great pianist of the last 100 years, whereas neither of you will be remembered for more than a few months after your deaths.

    Are either of you adults, or are you priveleged peckish little whiners who didn’t get your entertainment value, and now you can’t enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and wine at the after-show party, cuz it just messed up your whole evening…

    See, I’m being petty and trivial, and my tone is mocking, juvenile, immature, and unprofessional. Just like you. See how if feels?

    Why don’t you both grow up and put your big-people shoes on and realize that most artists go above and beyond, and try to transcend, when they communicate with their listeners. Most of the time it works, but because art is a human thing, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s too bad, BUT IT IS NOT PERSONAL.

    So stop acting like petulent children. Get off your high horse.

    You are behaving like hack cynics: A person who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing. Your comments display nothing more than your lack of empathy.

    I was going to have a delightful after dinner aperitif, but your shallow cheapness has put me right off. Now I have to go sit in the hottub without my drink, dash it all.

  • Some of the above comments from Tania Miller are simply untrue. I was there, in the fifth row. As each piece ended, there were sighs of appreciation from the audience, extended applause, and acclaiming shouts. Yes, Yuja Wang’s demeanour was strange, but we all thought perhaps she was ill. Her playing was possibly affected by her emotions, in that it was strongly emotional, and her Bach “didn’t sound like Bach” if you like, but her mastery of the piano is such that her astounding range of colours, tone and articulations enabled her to present a deeply moving and personal interpretation to all the pieces.

    My comment at the time was that she allowed herself to become so vulnerable and exposed through her playing, with all defences lowered, and I felt she was courageous to give everything away as she did. Yes, between pieces she was odd and distant, but she always did try to smile, if only briefly.

    She left the stage once for a long time between pieces, and it was odd again. And again we felt she must not be well. Her sunglasses also made us think she might be ill, to shield her eyes from the bright stage lighting.

    But never, not for one second, did she hold back in her performances, and I felt very lucky to be there for such an intimate and courageous sharing of music. This without knowing that anything had happened before the performance to disturb her equilibrium.

    Finally, she returned to give TWO encores, smiling and bowing with her hand over her heart to express her gratitude to the audience, also turning to wave to the people sitting in the choir loft (the recital was completely sold out).

    I saw two people, both Asian, wearing face masks. It is quite unremarkable to see Asian people wearing masks, usually because they have colds and don’t want to give them to anyone else. If you’ve been in Japan or China you would be used to the sight and not make anything of it.

    I don’t understand why the person whose comments you published, the Canadian conductor, didn’t open her ears and hear what the rest of us heard on Friday. I don’t understand why people should feel so entitled that they get upset when they feel they should get deference and respect from a performer, instead of listening to the performance and being happy to share the music with a real musician! I have no idea who Tania Miller is, sorry, and if she couldn’t hear the emotion and rawness that powered this outstanding performance she can’t be blamed. But I don’t forgive her bending the facts to fit her argument that she felt snubbed because Yuja didn’t smile at her.

    • Guest Poster says:

      Susan, thank you for your beautiful and empathetic and supportive post!!!

      Regarding your comment, “I have no idea who Tania Miller is…” There is a reason. LEt’s leave it at that.

      Susan, your comments were spot-on.

  • Ben Gaunt says:

    Norman, are you going to apologise and offer a retraction, having read Yuja’s explanation?

  • Michael Schefold says:

    It would be better to first be informed about the circumstances and then write about it. Other artists would have cancelled their performance after such a humilating experience. Chapeau to Yuja for playing (with sunglasses to hide her swollen eyes from the audience!) a great recital!
    Shame on you for such a disrespectful headline.
    This shows me how a narrowminded personality you must be…..

  • TY Chan says:

    As a concert presenter/promotor, I would be curious to know 1) Did the presenter apply for a proper working visa for the artist to ” work” legitimately and 2) if the artist has hold on any kind of invitation letter to perform proving that she is coming to the city to perform and be able to present such letter to the immigration on request? Such letter should be prepared and issued by the presenter outlining all the details of such visit by the artist and pass to the artist, so the artist status is crystal clear. Usually if these two documents are handy, , there should be no problem at all !! On the contrary, disasters could happen, e.g. conflict of status ( “working” on a tourist’s visa, the Q and A process was not consistence enough …. everything would contribute to suspicious bits…
    Well, personal attitude, being cooperative or not cooperative, being humble or arrogant…. all these gives good or bad impressions to the immigrant officer. Reputation does not count here……. it’s totally irrelevant!

    • V.Lind says:

      Have you any idea how many borders Yuja Wang crosses in a year? How often has has been to Canada? You can be sure all her papers were in perfect order. She is not a beginner applying for a chance to play in places — she has people who deal with this sort of thing.

      This will be because of her being visibly Chinese, and perhaps because she was so well-travelled, as someone has suggested.

      Who said what to whom in that room will never be known, but someone who has been an international artist for so long, with her papers in order, would likely have been shaken to be subject to interrogation. As, I suspect, most of us would.

      On the other hand, travellers are being subjected to close scrutiny on entering countries these day due to a health emergency of which she must be aware. But I have no doubt Chinese travellers have been subjected to more than most.

      I took a look at her recent schedule and she does not appear to have been in Asia in recent memory. That should have waved her through, so any further questioning would have to have been based on her ethnicity.

  • Sophie says:

    Only an immigrant knows how stressful and upset it can be when being asked and detained at the border control for over an hour. Yuja isn’t a robot! She is a human being able to feel the humiliation the Canadian authority imposed on her.

  • stanley cohen says:

    She played, didn’t she?

    • Suogalana Egami says:

      Yeah, that is actually the point of this entire discussion thread. Yuja did indeed perform. She could have done a Van Halen (https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/brown-out/) but instead she honored “The Show Must Go On”. That’s right: she gave what she could in spite of difficult circumstances.

      The Norman Lebrechts and Tania Millers of the world are what real musicians refer to as “wannabees”. I note Ms. Miller has a bachelor’s degree in Music from U of Saskatchewan. That means skwat.

      Music degrees are easy to get. Then you are qualified to be a music teacher. Seriously. Look it up. What profession do 90% of music grads do? They teach.

      BUT!! A few actually go on the road and be the real thing, traveling, professional, performance musicians, and this, friends, is in the grand tradition of 14th century lute players traveling from town to town, proffering their audio wares, rubber meets road… the real thing.

      Been there, done that.

      The Norman Lebrechts and Tania Millers out there haven’t a clue, they really don’t. They have safe little sedate jobs.

      The ones who place sword in hand and venture forth into the middle world, they are the heroes/heroines of the world. Ms. Miller is well aware of this given her conducting history.

      She perfectly well knows that it is tough being an artist, and even tougher being a traveling artist, and considerably tougher being an international touring artist.

      How remarkably insensitive of her, she sounds like she really has no empathy at all. Or, perhaps, the real motivation is one of inner jealousy.

      The audience looks at Yuja’s face when she plays, whereas, all they can see is the back of Ms. Miller’s head when she conducts.

      Ouch. That was a cheap shot. But, does anybody else have a better reason to explain her non-professionalism in describing the performance?

      Naaaaahhh, she’s just jealous. She wanted to be a concert pianist, but she wasn’t good enough, ended up being a conductor, but always, lingering in her heart, was disdain for those who had musically bettered her.

      Oops, there I go again, cheap, vulgar opinion about someone I know nothing about – just the same as the way she spoke about Yuja.

      Speaking as a fellow touring musician, I can absolutely say: if that is Ms. Miller’s attitude, I guarantee you, she sucks as a conductor. With crap empathy for your talent, you can’t possibly do good work.

  • Tausendsassa says:

    Fury?? Nonsense. That is one person’s entirely subjective reaction and nothing more. I was at the concert (seated quite close to the stage) and can attest that no one in my immediate vicinity or with whom I spoke during intermission or afterwards was “furious”. Baffled and bewildered, perhaps, but certainly not angry. One neurologist friend thought that perhaps Ms Wang was suffering from migraine, which would explain the dark glasses. As it turned out, her behavior was explained by the execrable treatment she’d sustained at the hands of the border police that afternoon. I have no idea who Ms Miller is; she is certainly entitled to her own interpretation of Ms Wang’s demeanor but she does not speak for the rest of the audience, any more than do the internet prattlers who feel the need to offer up their absurd speculative opinions even though they weren’t at the concert.

    • Meredith says:

      Thank you!

    • Nadia says:

      Exactly! I was slightly confused with the sunglasses and somewhat sensed that she wasn’t entirely in a good mood in the beginning of the concert. But once she started playing, oh, who cares about what she wears to the stage! (Although I did appreciate her changing dresses, that was fun). The people sitting around me were all mesmerized by her performance, particular the Bach piece and the encore Chopin. No one was angry or upset. I guess some of us were there for the music and not so concerned about “how you should behave in a classical music concert setting so you appear proper and classy.”

  • Barbara says:

    What everyone – including the pianist – fails to grasp is that it is the MUSIC that is the most important aspect of a performance, not what the performer looks like….people listen with their eyes these days and not their ears…sadly

  • John Sellers says:

    Music is about the music, not the appearance.

    Glasses have nothing to do with the sound.

    You should have stuck to appreciation of what really counts rather than appearances.

  • Charlene says:

    Yuja is human too. Her traumatic experience at Canadian border control was upsetting to say the least. You are not only judgmental but also harsh

  • Karin Becker says:

    The young Pierre Boulez wore sunglasses during a conduction because of an eye infection. The video can be found on youtube. Nobody was upset about it – there were still no twitter, Instagram and Facebook. – Miss Wang has put together a program of many short piano pieces and she has chosen to leave the stage between the pieces and then appear again. She doesn’t have to. G. Sokolov, for example, plays longer sonatas in a row without a long pause. But Miss Wang is a master of arousal. You don’t have to play this game.

    I

  • David says:

    Totally unacceptable. Do you understand the amount of racism Asian people are suffering right now because of Covid-19?

    • HvK says:

      David…at this moment there are tens of thousands dead of Covid-19 across the globe (perhaps hundreds of thousands, since we cannot trust the numbers coming from China).

      Given this virus originated in East Asia – where by the way almost every pandemic has originated, from Black Death to CV – it is perfectly reasonable for Westerners to be wary of East Asians.

      I would advice you to get used to it.

      Oh – and I should tell you that I have faced discrimination myself on several occasions. I ask myself whether it is real or imagined…and then I realize it doesn’t matter. It’s just how people are.

      Coming to terms with that fact was one of the major “breakthroughs” of my life. Instead of seeing bigotry in every face I see when I leave my home in the city to less diverse locales, I see my fellow human beings, weak and imperfect, but almost always good at heart. Yes, even those who (in my mind at least) may be less than tolerant of “the other.”

  • Robert Klee says:

    Was the piano playing good? Did the conductor feel the sunglasses meant Yuja didn’t hit the right notes?
    Too much focus on what musicians look like & wear – focus on the music

  • Scott says:

    Such petty nonsense.

  • luz kane says:

    the should be little more patient and understanding better, not every day is sunshine , people request too much from others, i wish i can see the inside of this people to see how good they are , come on give the puanist a break!!!

  • Alex says:

    You arrogant judgmental arseholes.yes you at Slipped Disc and Tania Miller. Grow up.

  • Robert Coates says:

    I do not ever again want to hear any of you Canadians looking down your noses and Americans and Britons. You are no better. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for how you treated Ms. Yang.

  • David B says:

    Why does it matter if she wore glasses. This is the dumbest thing I’ve read in months. Concern yourself with, I don’t know, climate change? Trump? War and starvation?

  • Daniel Glover says:

    As a pianist who has performed hundreds of concerts, sometimes in dire situations (I performed an all Beethoven recital the day my mother died), I have always resented “the show must go on” mentality. Musicians are human just like anyone else. In most people’s professions it is understood that they may miss work due to likeness or other personal reasons. Why are we musicians held to a different standard? It seems inhumane to expect someone to get on the stage and be their best, or even just their norm, in such circumstances. I realize that artists of Yuja’s level can, and do cancel, because they have a management team that can easily find another comparable artist to fill in at a moment’s notice. Such is not the case with those of us who regularly perform with “local” orchestras or in recital. I’ve performed 66 different works with various orchestras and have never once canceled. Just putting that out there. Yuja went above and beyond by following through with her concert. I once played in Argentina and my flight was canceled enroute to the venue on the day of the concert. I had to take a bus and didn’t know if I’d make the venue in time for the concert. I had no contact information for the presenter and was simply told I would be met at the airport. I somehow played the best recital on that tour!

    • Saxon Broken says:

      I think people would have understood if you had cancelled on the day your mother died. Actually, many of us do not understand not cancelling on the day your mother died.

      • Daniel Glover says:

        Hi Saxon,
        She had been on her death bed for months. She lived 2400 miles from me. I made eight trips to see her during the last four months. I should have clarified that she died after I had played. I certainly would have canceled if it had happened prior to the concert. Thanks for your empathy!

  • Sharon says:

    In the English version of his autobiography Jackie Chan, the action movie star, spent two chapters mainly describing the prejudice, racial profiling, and typecasting he experienced when he was in the US.

  • Marilyn Crosbie says:

    Now I understand what Glenn Gould was talking about when he said, “I detest audiences, not in their in their individual components…”. This episode and people’s harsh reaction toward the pianist is what drove Gould to the recording studio and off the concert stage. Thank goodness he did, because he left an amazing legacy of written work as well as recordings of his playing as well as numerous radio projects. This lady was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. Some pianists would have called the entire concert off under similar circumstances. To accuse her of seeking attention by wearing sunglasses ( as did Roy Orbison) is rather harsh. Of course, I wasn’t at the concert, so I don’t know how I would have felt. I do know, what it feels like to play the piano in front of an audience.

  • Rei says:

    I’m of Asian descent and am ALWAYS pulled aside for extra screening at airports in spite of having a global entry card. My white husband didn’t believe it happened …. until we had travelled several times together and I was pulled aside every single time, while he sailed through security like it wasn’t there. Now with the covid scare, I don’t even want to deal with airports.

    I feel her pain, and completely empathise.

  • carl wells says:

    The petty destructive gossip put forth by Norman Lebrecht is attention seeking and that’s it. Not helpful for our industry and not even actual journalism. If he had any dignity he would take this post down.

  • Vince says:

    The Canadian Borders is bad enough for anyone who looks Asian, and especially with covid-19 going on.

    I am Canadian of Chinese descend, never in my mind I thought of the racial issue until this pandemic, and we just feel Targeted.
    How would you like it when you are given dirty looks from random strangers of all other races when you are just being yourself?
    Remember we are not selfish and we get MOCKED for wearing masks, we wear it not mainly to protect us but the society as well (prevention, just look at the statistics).

    People who are not ‘victims’ of racial issues will never understand, it messes with the feelings and emotions in ways that cannot be described. So I can’t imagine how mentally hard it must of been for Yuja, especially after this shocking experience at border and yet she still carried out her performance. It still shows how much dedication she has to her audience and fans.

    Yuja, you are a strong lady and you are already one of the best in this world! You are Amazing and don’t stop doing what you are doing!

    • Yuja's meltdown says:

      Vince, it is one thing to experience racism, another thing to be subjected to screening on public health grounds. Nobody is begrudging Wang her right to be upset at being inconvenienced, but self-indulgent, annoying behavior on stage is a pattern with her. Regardless of how well her performance may have rated from a technical perspective, she was standoffish and rude to the Vancouver audience, the sunglasses an absurd, “look at me!” touch that unfortunately fit right in with the Yuja Inc. brand of exhibitionism.

      Yes, we ought to allow a certain level of eccentricity from performers – but our tolerance of such things is usually proportional to the talents (and charms) of the artist in question. Yuja Wang is simply amazing from a technical perspective, but her playing is very self-regarding, at times even un-musical. While many performers are narcissicitc, Yuja takes it to another level altogether. Very distasteful, and polarizing.

      Audiences and critics will always be a key part of any performance. Yuja is a performer who already has a justly deserved reputation for putting herself before the music, and, therefore, the audience. Her absurd behavior in Vancouver simply proved a point she has already made many times before: she is a performer, not an artist.

      BTW, travelers from East Asia *should* expect extra scrutiny given the spate of zoonotic diseases that tend to originate in that part of the world (Covid-19 being only the most recent). The real question is whether these airport screeners treated Yuja with dignity and respect (i.e., as they would treat anyone else with a global travel profile, esp. from Asia). Yuja’s “humilation” notwithstanding, it does not seem as though she was treated fairly.

      So, this is on her…Tania Miller had every right to criticize her antics.

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