Beijing-based photographer Luo Yang is best known for her intimate portraits of inspirational females, including a ten-year series, ‘Girls’, depicting women from different backgrounds in contemporary China. As part of our Kindred Spirits series, Luo Yang shot a series of creatives dedicated to their craft, with the theme ‘A Sense of Certainty’.
The first of these is pianist Luo Wei, named in ‘The World’s Top 19 Artists to Watch’ by New York's leading classical music station WQXR. We spoke to the 25-year-old phenomenon about her life at the keys.
THE ONE TO WATCH
At 25, you are a stand-out leader in your field. When did you realise you would have a career in music?
‘To put it poetically, at the age of 8, I experienced a destined moment. I was seriously ill with pneumonia and had been unable to play the piano for several days. I felt that something very important in my life was missing, and I was convinced that I would music would always be in my life. Even if I was not a pianist, I would still do related work.
‘After that, I spent more time in concerts and exchanges with friends from all walks of life to find my own musical voice. After the COVID 19 pandemic, I returned to China to develop my career. Unexpected situations often occurred before performances, so I was working in complete uncertainty. My coping method was to record messages on my phone, like, ‘Luo Wei, you can definitely do it!’. Later, the performances went smoothly and the attendance rate increased to 100%. I believe that power is completely a matter of thought, it can be none or it can be infinite.
‘Music brings me a state of mind. Sitting in front of the piano, no matter what piece is played, as long as my hands are still on the keys, I can find a very peaceful state, as if I have entered another world.’
How do you feel about finding fame at a young age?
I don't think much about becoming famous at a young age. I have achieved my success because I love what I do. I practice the piano ten hours a day to ensure that I can express rhythm, emotions and thoughts in every note. I enjoy seeing a full audience with the lights dimmed, in a different venue and every night.
What has been the greatest challenge of your career?
When I was 16 or 17 years old, I loved playing big pieces that hurt my hands. As a result, I got tenosynovitis and I couldn't even pick up a spoon. My mentor Professor Gary Graffman had experienced a similar injury and helped me find the best doctor.
Tell us about the theme for your tour, ‘Gazing Eastwards’.
I have spent a lot of time abroad, exploring how to listen to and perform music. When discussing oriental art and philosophy with foreign friends, they often express great yearning. To them, the East is a place carrying beauty and inspiration. In those moments, I’m proud to be Chinese. I want to show the lustre of dewdrops on bamboo leaves in the morning, the fragrance of ink on books.
What were your favourite Johnstons of Elgin pieces on shoot?
During stage performances, I often wear formal dress and rarely wear such soft-to-skin, comfortable clothing. In the finished photo, I am relaxed and soft, with a gentle but determined power. I discovered a side of myself that I had never seen before, which was a pleasant surprise.
I like the home blanket very much. Its big, warm, soft and gives me a sense of security. It made me feel wrapped and embraced by love.