CLASSICAL POST: Hanzhi Wang’s Hard Work Brings Accordion To Classical Music Forefront

 January 3, 2019 · Bethany R. McKay  
Hanzhi Wang's Hard Work Brings Accordion To Classical Music Forefront
Despite her young age, success follows accordionist Hanzhi Wang. She is the first accordionist to join the roster of Young Concert Artists in its 57-year history, making her debut in New York this past fall. If that wasn’t enough, the record label Naxos released its first-ever solo accordion album, Hanzhi’s On the Path to H.C. Andersen.
Hanzhi credits it all to hard work. “I was brought up in a way that it was obvious that I should work hard. Looking back on that, I think it has been one of the most important lessons of life,” she said.


During late summer, Hanzhi released the solo album, On the Path to H.C. Andersen, which she began promoting worldwide in the autumn. This album tells the story of the development of the classical accordion, which many Danish composers are inspired by the world famous fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, told in a shining and adventurous tonal language. Some of these pieces already belong to the standard repertoire for the accordion, and they are played all over the world as an important contribution to the rapidly growing repertoire for the instrument. 
Poignant reflection and tragic depiction infuse Martin Lohse’s Menuetto and The Little Match Girl, which is dedicated to Hanzhi. From Jesper Koch’s quixotic Jabberwocky to Svend Aaquist’s evocative Saga Night, Hanzhi’s new repertoire for a relatively recent concert instrument is both dramatic and uplifting.
Hanzhi has always been fascinated by Andersen’s fairy tales, beginning with her childhood in China. This invisible connection brought her to Andersen’s native country, Denmark, where she found pieces that were connected to fairy tales and Nordic sagas. As she began to explore, she discovered the atmospheres of darkness and lightness, as well as the music that now takes the listener into all sorts of imaginations and colors.
“Coming from one country with a lot of folklore-based adventures (China), to another area with similar traditions (the Nordic countries), it also strikes me that the similarities of atmospheres are more obvious than the differences,” she added.


Hanzhi now shifts her focus to on stage, and she promotes the album and performs all over the world. She said the accordion is a very virtuosic instrument, so she tries to emphasize this particular element when programming her recitals. She believes music is a way to use our fantasy in a very personal way, as she even thinks in pictures and emotions while performing. This link between the audience and the performer is what makes music such an incredible art form, where everyone can find their own colors and fantasies during a performance.
“I consider myself to be a very communicative musician, and I really try to project the music into every single audience as much as I can! In this way, I hope that people will have a lot of imagination during my performances,” she said. “When this sharing succeeds, then I feel very privileged to be able to perform on stage, and consider myself to be very lucky!”
Hanzhi feels humanity needs the intimacy of live music performances, almost like a healing process from the daily pressure and stress of life. When people experience this, the quality of life is more complete.
Despite the normal classical audience being of mature age, that doesn’t mean young people shouldn’t experience this art. The peace, colors, and atmosphere provided by classical music are needed for children and young people, which helps calm and, as a result, fosters a focus on creativity.
To learn more about Hanzhi Wang, visit her website.