December 2, 2010
By SCOTT CANTRELL
The Dallas Morning News
Little in Xi Wang's earliest years suggested a career as a classical music composer and professor.
She was born 32 years ago in a small Chinese town where her parents had been sent during the Cultural Revolution. When a piano was delivered to their home, all the neighbors turned out to watch.
"In the early '80s, a piano was a luxury thing," recalls Xi, who retains the Chinese custom of keeping her family name before her given name. (It's pronounced shee wong.) "Nobody there had seen a piano at that time."
Her musical gifts had been evident early on, though, and she went on to get an undergraduate degree in composition from the Shanghai Conservatory, a master's from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a doctorate from Cornell University.
Now in her second year as an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts, Xi is being featured in a Sunday concert by Voices of Change, Dallas' new-music ensemble. The other two composers on the program were two of her composition teachers, Steven Stucky and Chen Yi. . .
Xi's initial musical studies were on piano, which she still plays, but at age 11, she was told that her hands weren't growing enough to tackle big romantic works.
"I could just play one octave. So they gave me two options: I could become a harpist or have some surgery.
"My parents didn't want to send me to surgery. But my Chinese teacher said I had good imagination, because my writing was very good – I could make up stories. She suggested composition."
Read the full story.
# # #