Pianist Di Wu is resting on the cusp of a major career. She's won prizes and honors all around the world, and been selected as one of Musical America's Rising Stars. Just this year, she's played concerts across the country and in Germany and Japan. November thirteenth, 2010, marks her third appearance with the Terre Haute Symphony. Conductor David Bowden says, "She's dearly loved by our audience. People are clamoring for tickets to see her again."
Although Di Wu was just a teenager when she came to the United States, she was in many ways a seasoned player, with many competition victories and major concerts. We asked her to talk about her development as an artist, and the teachers who helped her.
Wu credits Zenon Fishbein of the Manhattan School of Music's Precollege Program as a major help. "When I came from China, I was only fifteen, and in some ways at a transition point. [Zenon Fishbein] was just so helpful in every way. I mean, he found me a piano. He even funded my first few months. "
From the Manhattan School, Wu went on to Curtis, where she studied with Gary Graffman. "We joke that he is kind of my musical grandfather and even today we keep in touch. The amazing thing about Gary was that he gave each of his students the freedom to develop as an individual, not to sound like him or some idea of him."
Wu's education continued with a masters' degree from Julliard, where she studied with Yoheved 'Veda' Kaplinsky. "Veda had a wonderful way of clarity. Sometimes we didn't play in a lesson, we'd just talk. If I brought some problem that seemed insoluble to her, she could see through it."
Following her work in the masters program, Wu studied with two teachers at once for a Julliard Artist Diploma, Joseph Kalichstein and Robert McDonald. "It might seem that this would create a problem, but it was wonderful. Kalichstein taught me new ways of hearing, of how one note went to another and the sounds. Robert McDonald was much more about the big picture the overall structure of a piece."
Of the Tchaikovsky concerto that she'll be playing in Terre Haute, Wu says, "I think it is a very uplifting work with an opening few chords that really will stick in people's minds. And there's also a lovely sense of playfulness as well that I think people will enjoy."