Quartet fires violinist over virus comments

Quartet fires violinist over virus comments


norman lebrecht

March 18, 2020

The Shanghai String Quartet, resident ensemble at the Tianjin Juilliard School’s has dismissed  violinist Yi-Wen Jiang over some offensive remarks he made online.

The Quartet has posted: Effective immediately, the Shanghai Quartet has accepted the resignation of violinist Yi-Wen Jiang. We begin the search for his replacement, and we look forward to sharing the next chapter of community and music with you all soon.

Yi-Wen Jiang said: I feel deeply guilty. I will deeply reflect on all the wrong words in the past and express my deepest apologies to the people across the country.

More here (in Chinese).



  • We privatize your value says:

    What remarks did he exactly make (verbatim)? Because Xi and the Party have their own definition of “offensive”.

    • Max Grimm says:

      “The comments mentioned in the statements most likely refer to a screenshot that went viral on Chines social media platform WeChat. The screenshot supposedly showed a comment from Jiang on a WeChat post from musician Liu Yunjie, in which Jiang called Chinese people “pigs.”

      Liu, an associate principal viola of the San Francisco Symphony who has also worked as the viola coach of the National Youth Orchestra of China, was involved in his own controversy a few days prior after he posted a photo of the Chinese national flag with the message “coronavirus made in China” in Chinese on Facebook on Tuesday, which angered Chinese netizens.”

      https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1183014.shtml (Article in English)

    • Fan says:

      Not a specific remark but rather a pig head emoji he used to refer to people living “inside the wall”. The emoji is not in the screenshot posted above (see here https://twitter.com/williamlong/status/1240828808963350528?s=21). Not sure he is fired from the quartet or the Tianjin “Juilliard”. If the quartet indeed fire someone over something like this, we know this is a quartet not worth listening to. That “Juilliard” has to be a money-making charade.

  • Jewelyard says:

    FaceTime auditions baby!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Which one is he in the photo, please?

    • Esther Cavett says:

      Top right. He’s studied with Zuckerman and Steinhardt. Plays on an on-loan Guarneri violin. Maybe that has to go back.
      I feel a bit sorry for him

      • Edgar Self says:

        Thanks, Esther, for identifying him as top right in thephoto. And for mentioning Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneris.

  • SueSonataForm says:


    And a big shout out to the Left for suppression of anybody’s thoughts which deviate from the orthodoxy. Terrifying times indeed.

    • John Rook says:

      100% correct.

    • V.Lind says:

      That’s rich from someone who supports the orange menace, who calls everything that disagrees with him “fake news.” Including, till somebody woke him up from his self-deluded stupor, coronavirus.

    • Larry D says:

      And your thoughts certainly deviate as far as anyone’s from humanity… whoops, I meant “orthodoxy”. I would have thought you’d have been a big fan of HUAC, since they were so involved in rooting out the insidious “Left”, your constant black beast.

  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    The reason for the epidemic is very obvious, to anyone who is up-to-date on current trends in classical music. TURANDOT is all the rage right now: the Met had it scheduled, and several of the lesser opera companies like San Francisco Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera were going to do it, and even some of the “little-grand-opera” companies like Regina Opera in Brooklyn and West Bay Opera in Palo Alto were preparing it. It’s also trendy in Europe. (These trends come and go– a few years ago everyone was re-discovering the mostly-forgotten composer Meyerbeer, and before that everyone was doing Donizetti, including very obscure works by him like POLIUTO.)

    Obviously, TURANDOT is very offensive to Chinese nationalists, almost as much so as old anti-Chinese movies like The Mask of Fu Manchu, because it depicts the Chinese people as superstitious, bloodthirsty barbarians ruled by a sadistic tyrant. But now, because of COVID-19, many of these companies are shutting down and cancelling performances, as the states shut down theaters and concert halls. This was obviously what the Chinese government was hoping to accomplish by unleashing this virus at this particular time– to shut down performances of TURANDOT in Europe and USA.

    That is cui bono in this case.

  • Robert Eshbach says:

    Yi-Wen is, and will always be, my friend. Whatever he said in an ill-considered social media post, I’m sure he deeply regrets it. It doesn’t represent him. No matter how bad, it can’t be any worse than what the President of the United States says on an hourly basis.

    Yi-Wen is a delightful person and a distinguished artist. This is a tragedy. It serves no one any good. I am so sorry for all involved — also his quartet colleagues, who are likewise friends of mine. This must be traumatic for them all. Yi-Wen’s words will be forgotten soon, but the damage will remain — Why do this? It’s cruel.

  • I’m going to say there was alcohol involved. Hard to explain his comments otherwise.

    Maybe “pig” isn’t as severe in Chinese as it is in English. When I was taking Chinese, “dog” was the really damning insult, as in “capitalist running dog,” our teacher told us.

  • Would you ever consider playing carbon fibre instruments, if they sounded amazing?

  • Chamber music fan says:

    I think anyone in their right mind would find Yi-Wen Jiang’s comments to be highly offensive. Also, anyone who works with the public, even marginally, should think twice about posting something like that on social media – that’s particularly true for performance artists who these days have social media followings. Yi-Wen Jiang’s dismissal was completely justified.

  • Doug says:

    You people want communism? THIS is the face of communism. Stray from the Party line and you are TOAST, shoveling ditches the rest of your life until they deem you are worthy of a bullet to the back of the head.

    • Jack says:

      All this hyperbole about a violinist who offended his colleagues enough to get the boot? Doug: Take a deep breath.

  • Sean Bulgersan says:

    That is the most stupid reason to fire someone ever. Now it’s obvious that shanghai quartet is just populistic group with fake personalities and when one of them will try to say how they really feel or think, they will get fired. What a “solidarity”. I’m so tired of BS like that. The violin player is a great musician he will be better without them and will get a better job.
    I would be happy to be out of the group like that. “friends” fake as fu**
    Not going to buy any of their recordings and won’t go to their concerts either.

  • Carol Baskin says:

    I’m a U.S. citizen and have heard way worse from our president…. why did Juilliard open a school in Tianjin of all places anyways? $$$ . You think an American institution, a New York music school… “The Juilliard School” could open a branch in the Bronx, or Queens, maybe another American state?…. nope- they go straight to Tianjin. The Shanghai quartet can have all the fun they want searching for a new violinist during this pandemic, they should have just chilled and accepted their violinist’s apologies.