“Music has been my whole life,” says Jing Wang. “I started playing violin when I was three and a half. My cousin, who was two years older than me, started learning back in China and every time I came home I’d play with two chopsticks as if they were a violin and bow.”
Born in Guilin and raised in Canada, it didn’t take Wang long to master the instrument. He made his first public appearance in Marseilles at the age of six and his concerto debut with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra at the age of nine. After serving as concertmaster for the Dallas Opera for three years,
one of several high-profile positions, he was invited to audition for the position of concertmaster for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HK Phil).
“When I finished my master’s degree [at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston], I got my first job as concertmaster at the Dallas Opera, which was right across the street from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra led by maestro Jaap van Zweden, who’s also the music director in Hong Kong. He was looking for a concertmaster, so I played a private audition for him, but he didn’t reach out until eight months later. He called from Hong Kong and invited me to be the concertmaster of the HK Phil, so here I am.”
That’s not to say that Wang’s path has been an easy one. “Being a classical musician is a lifetime of sacrifices,” says the 34-year-old, who’s been based in Hong Kong since 2013. “You have to put your entire spirit, heart and body into what you do. Secondly, being a soloist or a concertmaster – or even having a stable career in an orchestra or as a music teacher – is time-consuming.
“The amount of preparation has to be constant. Sometimes I practice eight hours a day. When you’re learning an instrument, there’s always something new to discover. I wanted to become a concertmaster so that I don’t have to travel as often as a soloist. I wanted a stable job so I can be based somewhere, have a family.”
Over the course of his career, Wang has performed as a soloist with countless orchestras in Europe and North America, competed in major international competitions (taking first prize at the 2007 Irving M Klein International Strings Competition and being named Young Soloist of the Year by Les Radios Francophones Publiques in 2003), co-founded a chamber music series and collaborated with several renowned conductors.
This year, he was featured as a soloist in Brahm’s Violin Concerto (the first piece he played for van Zweden during his audition) and helped the HK Phil bring home the Gramophone Orchestra of the Year Award. “It’s one of the [industry’s] most important awards, and this was the first time an Asian orchestra was nominated,” Wang says. “To actually win the award is huge.”
Jumper: Bottega Veneta | Shirt and Jacket: Wang’s own | Watch: Richard Mille RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat