As the winner of New Tang Dynasty Television’s (NTDTV’s) second Chinese International Violin Competition, 16-year-old Nancy Zhou continues to astonish audiences and musicians around the globe with her rare talent. Patricia Schofield, Executive Director of the Mid-Texas Symphony, is one of those who just loves to watch Nancy play.
Patricia Schofield first met Nancy when she performed as concertmistress of the top-rated orchestra during a performance of Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA). She was only 9 years old at the time, playing with high school students.
“She was so poised and so professional… and a very hard worker.”
At that time Nancy was already working with the Musical Director of the Mid-Texas Symphony, David Mairs.
“When I called her parents to ask them if she might be available to perform with us this season, her father Zhou Long said, ‘Nancy would love to work with David Mairs again!’”
Now Nancy Zhou is a guest artist at the Mid-Texas Symphony which opens its 32nd season this fall.
Patricia Schofield has followed Nancy's development closely and admires her motivation and musical gifts. She remembers a master class in 2006 given by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. The class was sponsored by the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts and the San Antonio Symphony.
“Nancy was the last young performer to take the stage. When she finished playing, Nadja quipped, ‘Next,’ implying that there was nothing to teach Nancy. Nadja went on to have a really interesting dialogue with Nancy about life as a prodigy, about selecting works that make you grow and reach inside for additional emotional depth as a performer, and about balancing life as a teenager and a professional musician. The discussion was on a completely different plane than the ones Ms. Sonnenberg had with the other performers.”
A Musician Since Age 4
Nancy started playing violin at the age of 4 under the guidance of her father, who is a member of the San Antonio Symphony. He has founded a group of young performers (his students) called Strings in Motion, which has toured China.
At the age of 13, Nancy Zhou represented the United States in the 13th Henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition in Poznan, Poland. She was the youngest participant. The competition is among the five most important for violinists in the world.
The young string virtuoso has a busy schedule ahead. Later this season she will appear in the Sibelius Concerto with the San Antonio Symphony and in the Brahms Concerto with the Symphony of the Hills of Kerrville.
She is also a current recipient of the Circle of Friends Foundation scholarship established by world-renowned violinist Anne Sophie Mutter and will tour Europe with Mutter in 2009 (violin) and 2011 (viola).
Nancy also made her debut in Carnegie Hall by winning the Chopin Sonata and Sonatina Piano Competition.
She was praised by the world-famous violinist Pinchas Zukerman and works closely with musical luminaries like Jaime Laredo, Peter Oundjian, and Koichiro Harada.
She enjoys playing the cello, viola, and piano.
A Humble Person
Despite her numerous abilities, Nancy is a humble person, focused on improving her musical technique, according to Ms. Schofield.
“Nancy is hard working, intelligent, and a person of many interests. She is quiet, yet friendly. Other students loved working with her.”
Surprisingly, the young artist sees her future in a field that is far away from music.
“While in elementary school, she was thinking about becoming a doctor.”
Nancy confirmed this at the award ceremony of the NTD International Violin Competition in New York, saying that she would use the $10,000 award for studies in biology and math.
But until this happens, Nancy will continue to enchant audiences around the world, and Ms. Schofield is confident about this.
“Nancy has the ability and the drive to reach the highest professional levels as a violinist. She is already performing as a soloist with orchestras across the country and around the world.”