One of Canada’s most exciting young pianists, Avan Yu achieved international recognition when he triumphed at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 2012, winning First Prize along with nine special awards. Avan decided to pursue a life in music shortly before winning his first international piano competition at the age of fourteen. Although initially aspiring to be an astronaut while growing up in Canada, his ideas changed after opportune meetings with several important musical mentors. He was first noticed by Pinchas Zukerman and Bramwell Tovey who invited him to perform with their respective orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony. Yo-Yo Ma, after hearing Avan play at the age of sixteen, invited him to perform with him in Ottawa a few years later. Since then, he has appeared with conductors and musicians such as Rafael Fruehbeck de Burgos, Christian Arming, Juanjo Mena, Johannes Moser, and the Armida Quartet. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Australia and at venues such as the Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Philharmonie in Berlin, the Salle Cortot in Paris, and the Sydney Opera House. Recent engagements include Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Kingston Symphony (Canada) and solo recitals in Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne.
Avan Yu became front page news as the youngest competitor ever to win the Canadian Chopin Competition at the age of 17. On the world stage, he went on to win the Silver Medal and Audience Prize at the Santander International Piano Competition. Following his First Prize at the Sydney International Piano Competition, the newspaper West Australian wrote: “But while he is second to few in the glittering virtuosity of which he is capable at the keyboard, there is also – and this is far more important – an ability to probe and reveal the inner depths of whatever he plays which is far more suggestive of the real McCoy than the surface prestidigitation that too often is all that many a young, hotshot piano player aspires to.”
His teachers have included Kut Kau Sum, Kenneth Broadway and Ralph Markham in Vancouver, and Klaus Hellwig in Berlin, where he studied at the Berlin University of the Arts. There he also studied chamber music with the Artemis Quartet and Art Song accompaniment with Eric Schneider. In Germany, he has performed at festivals such as the Rheingau Music Festival, Heidelberger Fruehling, Kissinger Sommer, and Ruhr Klavierfestival, and for the President and the Bundestag President of Germany.
His latest recording of Liszt’s Transcriptions of Schubert’s Winterreise and Schwanengesang, released by Naxos, won positive reviews from critics at Gramophone Magazine, American Record Guide, Fono Forum, among others. Besides playing the piano, Avan has also written for the National Post and is a student of world languages.