Leehom Wang ’98 Wows Williams

Leehom Wang ’98 delighted a Williams audience during his free concert in Chapin Hall Monday night, beginning the show by singing a bit of the alma mater song “The Mountains.”

Over the course of the intimate, 90-minute show, he performed a mix of old and new hits, including some he wrote as a student at Williams, singing in both Chinese and English, and showcasing a blend of musical styles and his talent in piano, acoustic guitar, and violin.

At various points throughout the concert, he shared the stage with Williams students and alumni, including tenor saxophonist Adam Sterns ’98 and several current and former members of the Springstreeters, the all-male a cappella group Wang belonged to as a student. In keeping with Springstreeters’ custom, the group closed the show with “Our Song.”

Wang is known as the “King of Chinese Pop” and one of the most influential musicians in China. He has released 15 solo albums and is the best-selling Mandarin-language musician of his generation.

He has won four of Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards and 15 Chinese Music Awards, and he has also acted in several movies, including Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. The night before his Williams performance, Wang was in Boston to receive an honorary doctorate of music from the Berklee College of Music and perform at Symphony Hall accompanied by international students.

His Williams concert drew more than 550 students, faculty, staff, and alumni. They lined up early to get seats, and the excitement was palpable.

Among a group of self-described “super fans” was Linda Chu ’14 of New York City. “This is a dream come true,” said Chu, who returned to campus for the first time since her graduation specifically for the concert. “I’ve been waiting for this moment since I learned he was an alum from Williams.”

Yuqi Ji, a visiting language fellow in the Asian studies department, said he’s been a fan of Wang’s since middle school, though “it was too expensive to see him perform in China.” He was excited to see Wang live for the first time.

Carol Wu ’18, a comparative literature major, said Wang “totally lived up to my expectations. His live singing sounds exactly like his CD, and he really displayed his musical abilities as well as a strong grasp of the atmosphere. Very charismatic. I think I turned into a fan after Monday.”

Wu was also excited to see herself in the video that Wang’s wife shot after the show and posted on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter.

Wang, who was raised in Rochester, N.Y., learned to speak Mandarin at Williams and double-majored in music and Asian studies at Williams. In addition to the Springstreeters, he belonged to Cap & Bells, and by the time he graduated, he’d already released four albums. He received an honorary degree from Williams in June 2016. That weekend he took part in a conversation with his former professors, W. Anthony Sheppard, professor of music, and Andy Jaffe, the Lyle B. Clay Artist in Residence in Jazz and senior lecturer in music.

Video and photos from Wang’s concert will be shared soon. Read a review of the concert in The Williams Record.