Aaron Diehl and Clara Yang
Tickets from $41.93. Discounts available. See details below.
Watch collaboration come to life! For the first CPA Series performance of 2024, acclaimed pianists Aaron Diehl and Clara Yang explore their vibrant musical friendship on the stage where it began. Check back later this fall for more information on their upcoming visit.
Tickets are available for $41.93. $10 UNC-Chapel Hill student tickets available with valid UNC One Card. Additional discounts available. Limits apply. Visit our FAQ page for details.
- Runtime: TBD
- Intermission: TBD
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ABOUT AARON DIEHL
Since his debut release on Mack Avenue Records in 2013, pianist-composer Aaron Diehl has mystified listeners with his layered artistry. He reaches into expansion. At once temporal and ethereal — deliberate in touch and texture — his expression transforms the piano into an orchestral vessel in the spirit of beloved predecessors Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum and Jelly Roll Morton. Moment to moment, he considers what instrument he’s moved to evoke. “This is a singular voice here, but maybe this section is a saxophone soli, or this piece here are high winds or low brass in the bass,” says the Steinway artist, describing his concept on the bandstand.
Following three critically-acclaimed leader albums, the American Pianist Association’s 2011 Cole Porter fellow now focuses his attention on what it means to be authentic, to be present within himself. His most recent release on Mack Avenue, The Vagabond, reveals his breadth as who The New York Times calls “a composer worth watching.” Across nine original tracks and works by Philip Glass and Sergei Prokofiev, Aaron leans into imagination and exploration. His forthcoming solo record promises an expansion of that search in a setting at once unbound and intimate.
In his sound, Aaron finds evolving meaning in the briefest phrases. He conjures three-dimensional expansion of melody, counterpoint and movement through time. Rather than choose one sound or another, one genre or another—one identity or another—Aaron invites listeners into the chambered whole of his artistry. His approach reflects varied ancestral lineages and cultural expressions. And he remains committed to independence and self-discovery.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, a young Aaron flourished among family members supportive of his artistic inclinations. His grandfather, piano and trombone player Arthur Baskerville, inspired him to pursue music and nurtured his talent. In 2003, Aaron traveled to New York; following his success as a finalist in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2002 Essentially Ellington competition and a subsequent European tour with Wynton Marsalis, he began studying under mentors Kenny Barron, Eric Reed and Oxana Yablonskaya, earning his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School. His love affair with rub and tension prompted a years-long immersion in seemingly disparate sound palettes he found to be similar in depth, resonance and impulse to explore, from Monk and Ravel to Gershwin and William Grant Still. Among other towering figures, Still in particular inspires Aaron’s ongoing curation of Black American composers in his own performance programming, unveiled this past fall at 92nd St. Y. This ongoing project, along with his recent and widely lauded trio interpretations of Glass’ iconic repertoire, has propelled Aaron into the next phase of self-actualizing. He embraces the challenge of drawing on other artists’ visions and expressions, then interpreting those within the framework of his own personal aesthetic.
As thoroughly a collaborator as he is a leader, Aaron has appeared at such celebrated international venues as The Barbican, Ronnie Scott’s, Elbphilharmonie and Philharmonie de Paris, as well as domestic mainstays Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The Village Vanguard and Walt Disney Hall. Jazz Festival appearances comprise performances at Detroit, Newport, Atlanta and Monterey, for which he received the 2014 festival commission. Orchestral performances include hits at New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Aaron’s appetite for expansion has afforded him passing and extended associations with some of the music’s most fascinating and enduring figures including Wynton Marsalis, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Buster Williams, Branford Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon and Philip Glass. His formative association with multi-GRAMMY award-winning artist Cecile McLorin Salvant only enhanced his study and deeply personal delivery of the American Songbook. Recent highlights have included appearing at the New York premiere of Philip Glass’ complete Etudes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, collaborating with flamenco guitarist Dani De Morón in Flamenco Meets Jazz (produced by Savannah Music Festival and Flamenco Festival) and performing with the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra as featured soloist on George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. The New York Times lauded the “brilliance” of his performance: “The roomy freedom of [his] playing in bluesy episodes was especially affecting. He folded short improvised sections into the score, and it’s hard to imagine that Gershwin would not have been impressed.“
When he’s not at the studio or on the road, he’s likely in the air. A licensed pilot, Aaron holds commercial single- and multi-engine certificates.
ABOUT CLARA YANG
Praised by Fanfare as “a first-rate pianist who isn’t afraid of challenges,” Chinese-American Pianist Clara Yang has performed in notable venues such as Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall (New York), Auditorio Nacional de Musica (Madrid), the Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing), the Seymour Centre (Sydney, Australia), the Barclay Theater (Irvine, California), Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theater (Rochester, New York), the Sunset Center (Carmel, California), Meymandi Concert Hall (Raleigh, North Carolina), and in series such as Carolina Performing Arts, Dame Myra Hess (Chicago Cultural Center), and Museu d’Història de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain). She is currently Associate Professor of Music and Head of Keyboard Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Besides performing the traditional repertoire, Dr. Yang is also an avid contemporary and new music interpreter. The distinguished composer Chen Yi composed the piano concerto Four Spirits for her in 2016. Dr. Yang performed the U.S. premiere of the concerto with the distinguished conductor Maestro Long Yu (余隆) leading the China Philharmonic Orchestra (中国爱乐乐团) in the Carolina Performing Arts series in December 2016. She performed the world premiere of this work with Maestro Huang Yi conducting the China Philharmonic in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. In addition, she performed Phillip Glass’s etudes along with the composer himself, Timo Andres, and other renowned artists in the Glass at 80 festival in 2017. She recorded Lee Weisert’s Érard, which was written for her, for Weisert’s album Wild Arc on the New Focus label. Dr. Yang served on the Artist Panel for New Music USA in 2015.
Concert highlights as a concerto soloist include performances with the European Union Youth Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy, the China Philharmonic Orchestra under Long Yu and Huang Yi, the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra conducted by Josep Caballe Domenech, Banda Sinfonica Municipal de Madrid, the Eastman Philharmonia under Jeff Tyzik, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra under Carl St. Clair, the Charlottesville Symphony with Laura Jackson, and numerous appearances with the North Carolina Symphony under Grant Llewellyn.
Her solo album Folding Time (Albany Records) was supported by New Music USA, Carolina Performing Arts, and the UNC Publication and research grants. She worked with Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Matthew Snyder and recorded in Memorial Hall, NC. This album won a Global Music Awards Gold Medal and received rave reviews from Fanfare, New York Arts, and American Record Guide. Her cello-piano duo album Grieg and Prokofiev (Albany Records) with Los Angeles Opera cellist Helen Zheng Altenbach was released in 2014. Her performances have been aired on numerous radio stations, such as ABC Classic FM in Australia and New Zealand, and Chicago’s 98.7 WFMT. Dr. Yang received her D.M.A. in piano performance at the Eastman School of Music, where she was a student of Nelita True. She studied with Claude Frank at the Yale School of Music (M.M., Artist Diploma) and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California as a student of John Perry.