Sunday, August 15, 2010

Twenty year-old Chinese pianist makes her U.S. debut at Hatch Shell on the Esplanade

For twenty year old pianist Rui Zhang, coming to Boston for the first time is special for two reasons. It is here, 7000 miles from Shanghai, that she has reconnected with her beloved piano teacher, Hung-Kuan Chen, and here that she will make her U.S. debut as piano soloist with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra.

Born in 1989 in Lanzhou, a city in Northwest China, Ms. Zhang began the piano at the young age of 3 1/2. When she was nine, she left her family to become a student at the prestigious Affiliated School of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. By the time she was fifteen, she was giving concert tours throughout China.

Three years ago, Ms. Zhang was accepted into the college level of the Conservatory, and began her undergraduate studies with Hung-Kuan Chen, a pianist well known to Boston audiences, then Chair of the Piano Department of the Shanghai Conservatory. When Mr. Chen was appointed to the piano faculty at New England Conservatory in 2009, he left Shanghai to return to Boston. Ms. Zhang now studies with Professor Xiang-yu Mao.

This summer Rui Zhang has come to Boston to participate in the Annual Summer Festival at Walnut Hill sponsored by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts. Each year, 30-40 young outstanding young musicians from Taiwan, China, and the United States come together to participate in an intensive three-week musical training program that includes private study with master faculty, chamber music and orchestral training. The program was an opportunity for Rui Zhang to reunite with her teacher.

As the winner of the Foundation's annual Concerto Competition, Ms. Zhang will perform with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade on Wednesday August 18.

This year, LSO Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee chose George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue as the featured work. This distinctively American work made a big impression on Rui Zhang.

"I have never been to the United States, and really love it. I had never played an American concerto before and it is so special to me that I will make my American debut here in Boston, playing this very special piece. And I am so grateful that my teacher Mr. Hung-Kuan Chen is here to teach me about its American nature. I have learned so much."

Ms. Rui Zhang makes her American debut on Wednesday August 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Longwood Symphony Orchestra's Free annual concert on the Esplanade as part of Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Landmarks Festival at the Shell series.

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