Yang Wei began his musical education at the early age of six, receiving instruction in the playing of various classical Chinese instruments. At 13, he made the decision to concentrate his considerable talents upon mastering the pipa. As a developing musician, Yang was taught by the pipa master Liu Dehai. At 18, he performed as a pipa soloist with the national Shanghai Orchestra and as his young career blossomed. In 1989, he was awarded the ART Trophy First Prize for the International Chinese Musical Instruments Competition, in the Young Professional Pipa Section.
Yang’s performances have been celebrated worldwide, inspiring audiences throughout Asia, Europe and the United States. Yang has been a member of the Silk Road Ensemble since 2000. He has toured from coast to coast in the United States, performing at venues such as the Ravinia International Music Festival, the Kimmel Center, the Lincoln Center and the Chicago Symphony Center. In addition to these performances and appearances, he has served as artist in residence for Chicago's Art Institute and has led international music lectures. He has been instrumental in commissioning new works by Chinese composers such as Bright Sheng, Huang Ro, and Lu Pei. His participation in such musical ventures serves to enrich the already grand legacy of Chinese music.
In 1996, Yang moved to the United States. With a desire to honor the musical heritage of his homeland China, but also to express himself in Western themes, Yang strives to share his native musical heritage, exploring the creative possibilities of blending his Eastern background with the Western influences of his new home. Yang continues to develop his art through diligent study, as well as through his involvement in timely new collaborations. He is ever committed to sharing his music with the community around him.Yang appears on two of the Ensemble’s albums released by Sony Classical, When Strangers Meet and New Impossibilities.