“She knows how to take a few notes and spin them into a large form—a rare trait in today’s composers.” That is composer John Corigliano speaking about Wang Jie, who is winning notice as one of the most distinctive musical voices of her generation.
Born in Shanghai shortly after the Cultural Revolution, Wang Jie was raised during an era of breathtaking economic expansion. She was recognized as a piano prodigy by the age of 5. A scholarship from the Manhattan School of Music brought her to the United States, where she began to pursue her passion for composition and dramatic storytelling under the tutelage of Nils Vigeland and Richard Danielpour.
While still a student, her tragic opera Nannan was showcased at New York City Opera's annual VOX festival. The engagement led to the production of her chamber opera Flown, a meditation on lovers who must separate, by Music-Theatre Group. The Emily Dickenson–inspired song cycle I Died for Beauty was featured at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Modern Music Festival. Her piano trio Shadow dramatizes the inner life of an autistic child. It was performed by the New Juilliard Ensemble in the Museum of Modern Art’s Summergarden concert series and was subsequently presented by Continuum on Merkin Hall’s China in America program.
Critical response has been immediate and highly enthusiastic. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review describes her work as "scrupulously crafted composition that embraces both Chinese and Western modern classical expression." The Milton Rock Fellowship committee awarded her its inaugural prize, commissioning an environmentally aware ballet, Five Phases of Spring, which was the highlight of the season at Philadelphia's esteemed Rock School for Dance Education. Her Death of Socrates won the fourth edition of the Northridge Composition Prize. She was named a Schumann fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, where she studied with Christopher Rouse and Marc-Andre Dalbavie in the Master Class program, and she earned an Artist Diploma at the Curtis Institute with Richard Danielpour. Other honors include multiple ASCAP awards and citations from BMI, Opera America, the American Music Center and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.
Wang Jie is self-published through ASCAP. Aside from composing, she is a semipro badminton player and a self-taught chef. She lives in New York.
Most recently, Wang Jie won the coveted Underwood Commission, for which she will compose a song cycle exploring the possibilities of dramatic storytelling within a concert hall setting. The American Composers Orchestra will premiere the work, Episodes From the Other Sky, at Carnegie Hall in October 2010. As John Corigliano says: "I can't wait to see what she does next."