When Wang Jie was a child, her mom called her “人来疯，” which roughly translates into “mad exhilaration when guests arrive.” Her spirit and musical intelligence blossomed in Shanghai, a city known as “the Eastern Paris.”
In China, she thrived as a pianist with help from her mentor, Yang Liqing. Years of hard work earned her a scholarship from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied composition with of Nils Vigeland. At the Curtis Institute of Music, she honed her craft with Richard Danielpour.
Wang Jie's music has sparked warm reviews. The New York Times described From the Other Sky as “clear, lucid and evocative”, and Oboe Concerto as having “interesting things to say and intriguing ways to say them.”
The composer says she's been thinking about what it means to listen. "I have a problem with this word 'listen,' because it sounds to me like it's a little condescending," she says. “'Listen'” just seems like such an obligation. The word that I keep going back to is 'feel.'"
Wang Jie says she just wants to feel music.
She has continued to create during the past year’s lockdowns in New York City. Among other projects, she's working on a new commision from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to be premiered during the 2021-22 season.
Looking around her, the Chinese-American composer says she thinks this nation is at a crossroads.
Watch the full interview with composer Wang Jie and WXXI’s Brenda Tremblay here: