Yuja Wang is Artist of the Year

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We knew her when: Yuja Wang takes her final lesson with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2008.

Musical America today named pianist Yuja Wang its 2017 Artist of the Year. The venerable classical music industry trade journal says:

"Her career soars above that of any pianist before the public today. She represents a new breed - the complete, thoroughly modern package. Wearing stunning gowns chosen specifically to match the repertoire she is playing, she has cultivated a persona of visual beauty as well as musical brilliance."

A bit on the breathless side, but we agree that Wang - who came to study at the Curtis Institute of Music at age 15 and stayed six years, graduating in 2008 - is pretty terrific. She opened the Philadelphia Orchestra's season this year with a performance of special insight.

The rest of Musical America's honorees this year all have Philadelphia connections to varying degrees. Composer of the year Andrew Norman finished a three-year composer-in-residence term for Opera Philadelphia this past spring.

Vocalist of the year Eric Owens studied at Curtis, graduating in 1995, and has been back several times to perform with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.

New music group Eighth Blackbird, named ensemble of the year, was ensemble-in-residence at Curtis for three school years, from 2012-13 through 2014-15.

Musical America's conductor of the year is Finn Susanna Mälkki, who made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut two years ago with a remarkably original Brahms Symphony No. 4

Last year's Musical America artist of the year was Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

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