How else would a busy cellist with the New York Philharmonic wrap up a performing season? By travelling to Calgary to teach master classes and back-to-back private lessons at Morningside Music Bridge, of course.
For Wei Yu, returning to teach where his career began is time well spent.
Before the prize-winning musician joined the New York Phil in 2007 at age 26, Wei Yu started studying at Mount Royal Conservatory’s Morningside Music Bridge in 1998 with our John Kadz.
He remained in Calgary for two years, joining our Academy for Gifted Youth program, and later winning the Rose Bowl — the top prize at the annual Calgary Kiwanis Festival in 2000.
From Calgary, the Shanghai-born Yu went to Chicago to further his music study, and later received his master’s degree at the Juilliard School. We can think of no better instructor for our international music training school than the MMB alumnus.
Question: You started playing cello at age four and made your concerto debut with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra when you were just 11 years old. How does that reflect in your teaching style?
Wei Yu: For me as a player, I went through a lot. Teaching what I have learned in my recent history especially influenced by great teachers like John Kadz, David Soyer and Hans Jørgen Jensen helps. I feel like I can really relate to the young players because I feel like I went exactly the same path yesterday. Physically and mentally, I can relate to the students here based on my experience.
Question: You are returning as faculty for the second year. Why did you want to come back? What is it about the program you like?
Wei Yu: This program has given me so much in the past. This is the starting point of my career, it’s from Music Bridge and from Calgary being at the Academy. I cannot describe with words! I was here 15 years ago as a student and coming back as a faculty member and meeting wonderful teachers here and colleagues… it’s just like a reunion. I think it’s time for me to give back and contribute more.
Question: How important is it to help shape the upcoming generation of classical musicians on the track to professional careers?
Wei Yu: Seeing the young generation of talents emerging — it’s a thrilling experience. It’s grown so much and in a very positive way developed over the past decades. There are so many soloists out there from this program. I wish everybody in the music world knew about this program. You see a lot of top notch talent return to the program year after year, both faculty and students.
Here’s what Noah, 14, from New York has to say about taking master classes with Wei Yu, who he occasionally sees outside Lincoln Center on his way to Julliard School prep class.
“He’s obviously a great teacher. It was great to get his wisdom and experiences. He’s very focused on making a great sound, relaxing your body so you can make a big sound. He has a good perception on how to create a really melodic and expressive sound.”