Violinist Xiang Yu

Mongolia-born violinist Xiang Yu, on the future of classical performance and finding a voice in music.

Symphony orchestras around the country are facing tough challenges in tough times. But virtuosity keeps on rising.

24-year-old violin virtuoso Xiang Yu was born in Mongolia. Studied in Shanghai. Was twenty-one when he won the Menuhin Competition for Young Violinists in Oslo. Came to America to fully find his voice in his music. How does one do that?

Xiang Yu is with us today, with his violin and his great teacher.

This hour, On Point: classical virtuosity in the 21st century.

-Tom Ashbrook


Xiang Yu at WBUR (photo by Jesse Costa, WBUR)

Xiang Yu at WBUR (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Xiang Yu, violin student at the New England Conservatory, he won the 2010 Menuhin Competition for Young Violinists. Born in Inner Mongolia, Xiang moved to Shanghai at the age of 11 and received his early training at the Shanghai Conservatory.

Donald Weilerstein, violin teacher at the New England Conservatory and the Juilliard School.

From Tom’s Reading List

New England Conservatory “Xiang ‘Angelo’ Yu, a second year violin student at New England Conservatory, has won the 2010 Menuhin Competition for Young Violinists, despite a nerve-wracking trip to Oslo, Norway during which he was stranded in the Reykjavik, Iceland airport because of the volcanic ash cloud. Thanks to the intercessions of a former ambassador to China and Norway who took Yu into his home, the violinist was able to get on a sold-out flight to Norway, sitting in the cockpit with the pilot. He arrived just in time for the competition’s first round and went on to win the finals on Saturday”

Bloomberg “Local chambers of commerce like to brag about their professional sports teams and arts groups as a way of attracting business and residents to their cities. The ability to use classical music groups in such campaigns may be increasingly at risk, say experts on professional music organizations, who warn that growing deficits among U.S. orchestras may be placing that sense of civic pride in jeopardy. It’s a crisis some are choosing to resolve through bankruptcy.”


Xiang Yu peformed Bach’s Chaconne from the Partita in D minor, BWV 1004, in Jordan Hall in Boston on Jan. 22, 2013:

American Public Media grants permission for the use of audio clips from Xiang Yu performances on “Performance Today” posted at to be used WBUR’s “On Point” to be aired Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

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