Since his gold medal win at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, 27-year-old Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang has captivated audiences with his deep musical sensitivity, fearless imagination, and spectacular virtuosity. In 2017, he received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, and in 2018, he made his Carnegie Hall solo recital debut. Zhang joins the Shanghai Quartet for Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bright Sheng’s Dance Capriccio and the Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor, op. 34. Don’t miss this “fiery piano virtuoso” (San Francisco Chronicle) recognized as “a star in the making.” (Seattle Times)
Renowned for its passionate musicality, impressive technique and multicultural innovations, the Shanghai Quartet has become one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles. Its elegant style melds the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breadth of Western repertoire, allowing it to traverse musical genres including traditional Chinese folk music, masterpieces of Western music and cutting-edge contemporary works.
Formed at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983, the Quartet has worked with the world’s most distinguished artists and regularly tours the major music centers of Europe, North America and Asia. Recent festival performances range from the International Music Festivals of Seoul and Beijing to the Festival Pablo Casals in France, Beethoven Festival in Poland, Yerevan Festival in Armenia and Cartagena International Music Festival in Colombia, as well as numerous concerts in all regions of North America. The Quartet has appeared at Carnegie Hall in chamber performances and with orchestra; in 2006 they gave the premiere of Takuma Itoh’s Concerto for Quartet and Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Among innumerable collaborations with noted artists, they have performed with the Tokyo, Juilliard and Guarneri Quartets, cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell, pianists Menahem Pressler, Yuja Wang, Peter Serkin and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, pipa virtuosa Wu Man and the male vocal ensemble Chanticleer. The Shanghai Quartet has made regular appearances at many of North America’s leading chamber music festivals, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamberfest Ottawa and Maverick Concerts where they recently made their 24th consecutive annual appearance.
The Quartet has a long history of championing new music and juxtaposing traditions of Eastern and Western music. The Quartet’s 30th Anniversary season brought five new commissions; Bullycide, for piano, string quartet, and bass, by David Del Tredici; Fantasie, a piano quintet by Australian composer Carl Vine; a concerto for string quartet and symphony orchestra by Jeajoon Ryu; Verge Quartet by Lei Liang and Scherzo by Robert Aldridge, commissioned by Yu Long and the Beijing Music Festival. The quartet’s 25th anniversary season featured Penderecki’s String Quartet No. 3: Leaves From an Unwritten Diary, Chen Yi’s From the Path of Beauty, String Quartet No. 2 by Vivian Fung and jazz pianist Dick Hyman’s String Quartet. The Penderecki premiered at a special 75th birthday concert in Poland honoring the composer ,followed by U.S. premieres at Peak Performances, Montclair State University and the Modlin Center, University of Richmond, and numerous performances worldwide. It was featured at the the composer’s 80th birthday celebration in November 2013. Chen Yi’s From the Path of Beauty, co-commissioned with Chanticleer, premiered in San Francisco, followed by performances at Tanglewood and Ravinia, Beijing and Shanghai. Other important commissions and premieres include works by Bright Sheng, Lowell Lieberman, Sebastian Currier, Marc Neikrug and Zhou Long. Bright Sheng’s Dance Capriccio had its premiere in spring 2012 with pianist Peter Serkin. Dan Welcher’s Museon Polemos for double quartet premiered in September 2012 with the Miro Quartet at the University of Texas at Austin.
The Shanghai Quartet has an extensive discography of more than 30 recordings, ranging from the Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Rudolf Buchbinder to Zhou Long’s Poems from Tang for string quartet and orchestra with the Singapore Symphony (BIS). Delos released the Quartet’s most popular disc, Chinasong: a collection of Chinese folk songs arranged by Yi-Wen Jiang reflecting on his childhood memories of the Cultural Revolution in China. In 2009 Camerata released the Quartet’s recordings of the complete Beethoven String Quartets, a seven-disc project.
A diverse and interesting array of media projects include everything from a cameo appearance playing Bartok’s String Quartet No. 4 in Woody Allen’s film Melinda and Melinda to PBS television’s Great Performances series. Violinist Weigang Li appeared in the documentary From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, and the family of cellist Nicholas Tzavaras was the subject of the film Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep.
The Shanghai Quartet currently serves as Quartet-in-Residence at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University, New Jersey; Ensemble-in-Residence with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra; and visiting guest professors of the Shanghai Conservatory and the Central Conservatory in Beijing. They are proudly sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld Strings.
Born into a family of well-known musicians in Shanghai, Weigang Li began studying the violin with his parents when he was five and went on to attend the Shanghai Conservatory at age 14. Three years later, in 1981, he was selected to go to study for one year at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music through the first cultural exchange program between the sister cities of Shanghai and San Francisco.
In 1985, upon graduating from the Shanghai Conservatory, Weigang Li left China again to continue his studies at Northern Illinois University and later studied and taught at the Juilliard School as teaching assistant to the Juilliard Quartet. His teachers have included Shmuel Ashkenasi, Isadore Tinkleman, and Tan Shu-Chen. Mr. Li was featured in the 1980 Oscar winning documentary film From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China. He made his solo debut at 17 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and has appeared as soloist with Shanghai Symphony, China Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Asian Youth Orchestra. Weigang Li is a founding member and first violinist of the Shanghai Quartet since 1983. In its 31st season, the Shanghai Quartet performed well over 2,000 concerts in 30 countries and recorded 34 CD albums, including 7-discs cycle of complete Beethoven string quartets on the Camerata label.
Weigang Li is a violin professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey and Bard College Conservatory of Music in New York. He also holds the title of guest concert-master of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and guest professor at Shanghai Conservatory and Central Conservatory in Beijing.
Violinist Yi-Wen Jiang was born into a musical family in Beijing where both parents were professional musicians. Beginning his violin studies with his father at age six, Jiang made his concerto debut at the age of 17 with the Central Opera House Orchestra in Beijing where he played the Prokofiev D Major Concerto Opus 19.
After winning top prize at the first China Youth Violin Competition in 1981, Jiang was accepted to study with Professor Han Li at the Central Conservatory of Music. In 1985, after receiving a full scholarship from McDonnell-Douglas, Jiang came to the U.S. to study with Taras Gabora and Michael Tree. In 1990, with the support of the Ken Boxley Foundation, he went to Rutgers University to work with Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneri Quartet. Other teachers included Gérard Poulet and Pinchas Zuckerman. As a prizewinner at the Montreal International Competitions, he appeared as a soloist with the Victoria Symphony and Montreal Symphony. Jiang had appeared at many international music festivals by the age of 22. He has recorded for the Record Corporation of China.
As a composer, Jiang has arranged over 50 pieces for string quartet and other instruments, many pieces composed with Eastern repertoire and Western influence. In addition to his extensive touring and recordings schedule, Jiang maintains a close relationships with his students. Jiang teaches at Montclair State University and the Bard College Conservatory of Music. He is also guest professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Shanghai Conservatory. When not performing, composing or teaching, Jiang enjoys photography, and food, and wine.
Honggang Li is the founding member Shanghai Quartet, now in its 35th season. He has performed over 2,000 concerts in 30 countries and can be heard on more than 30 CD albums.
Mr. Li began studying the violin with his parents at age seven. When the Central Conservatory of music in Beijing reopened in 1977 after the Cultural Revolution, he was selected to attend from a group of over five hundred applicants.
He continued his training at the Shanghai Conservatory and co-founded the Shanghai Quartet with his brother Weigang while in his senior year in the conservatory. The quartet soon became the first Chinese quartet to win a major international chamber music competition (the London International) and came to the U.S. in 1985. Li received his Master of Music degree from North Illinois University and served as a teaching assistant at the Juilliard School in New York. In 1987, he won the special prize (a 1757 DeCable violin) given by Elisa Pegreffi of Quartetto Italiano at the First Paolo Borciani International Competition in Italy.
Mr. Li is currently also an artist-in-residence and faculty at Montclair State University and held the same title at University of Richmond in Virginia from 1989 to 2003. He has been the guest professor of both conservatories of Shanghai and Beijing. Mr. Li is also the guest principal violist of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra since 2009.
A native of Spanish Harlem in New York City, cellist Nicholas Tzavaras has toured the globe as a chamber musician, soloist and educator for the past two decades. He has performed more than 1,500 concerts worldwide, from Cartegena, Colombia to the Tonhalle in Zurich to Nagasaki, Japan. The New York Times calls his playing “richly singing” and “beautifully nuanced.” Since 2000, Mr. Tzavaras has been the cellist of the internationally renowned Shanghai Quartet.
Recent festival engagements have included the Brevard, La Jolla and Taos festivals, the Casals festival in Prades, France, the Melbourne Music Festival in Australia, and the Marlboro Festival. Mr. Tzavaras has held the esteemed title of guest principal cellist of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra since 2009. He has recorded more than 21 albums for the Naxos, Delos, Bis, Centaur, Camerata, and New Albion labels, including Beethoven’s string quartet cycle and Bright Sheng’s songs for pipa and cello with Wu Man, to name a few.
Formerly on the faculty of the University of Richmond, Mr. Tzavaras is currently the coordinator of the string department and artist in residence at Montclair State University’s John J. Cali School of Music. He is also guest professor at the Shanghai and Central Conservatories of China. In the fall of 2016, Tzavaras joined the faculty of the Longy School of Music in Boston.
Mr. Tzavaras began studying violin at age two with his mother, Roberta Guaspari, and moved to the cello when he was six. A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, he went on to receive degrees from the New England Conservatory and the State University of New York at Stonybrook where his cello teachers were Laurence Lesser and Timothy Eddy. Mr. Tzavaras can be seen in the Academy Award nominated documentary Small Wonders, the motion picture Music of the Heart starring Meryl Streep and with the Shanghai Quartet in Woody Allen’s Melinda Melinda.
When he is not with his cello, Mr. Tzavaras is an avid cyclist, occasional triathlete, enthusiastic but unfortunately average chess player and, perhaps most importantly, a challenged father of three children all under the age of eight.
“Such a combination of enchanting, sensitive lyricism and hypnotizing forcefulness is a phenomenon encountered very rarely.” — Ury Eppstein, The Jerusalem Post
Since his gold medal win at the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, 28-year-old Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang has captivated audiences in the United States, Europe, and Asia with a unique combination of deep musical sensitivity, fearless imagination and spectacular virtuosity. In 2017, Haochen received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, which recognizes the potential for a major career in music.
Haochen has already appeared with many of the world’s leading festivals and concert series and following his performance of Liszt’s Concerto No. 1 at the BBC Proms with Yu Long and the China Philharmonic received rave reviews: ‘He made the Allegretto dance with Mendelssohnian lightness and Lisztian diablerie, and played the melody of the Quasi Adagio with melting softness.’ Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph.
A popular guest soloist for many orchestras in his native China, Haochen made his debut in Munich with the Munich Philharmonic and the late maestro Lorin Maazel in April 2013, preceding their sold-out tour. Haochen has also toured in China with the Sydney Symphony and David Robertson, in Tokyo; Beijing and Shanghai with the NDR Hamburg and Thomas Hengelbrock; and following a performance in December 2014 with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra in Beijing. Gergiev immediately invited Haochen to his Easter Festival in Moscow, Russia.
Highlights of his 17/18 season include his debut solo recital at Carnegie Hall, performances with Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM, China Philharmonic, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, California Symphony, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, and Taiwan Philharmonic, along with performances with the China NCPA Orchestra at their Carnegie Hall debut and New Year concert in Beijing, the Shenzhen Concert Hall 10th Anniversary Gala with Lang Lang, and a Chinese New Year concert with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich and Maestro Yu Long. This season, he makes his debut with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Haochen will also give recitals in Mexico City, Madrid, and Boston, among others.
In February 2017, Haochen’s latest recital CD was released by BIS, including works by Schumann, Brahms, Janáček, and Liszt. In past seasons, Haochen has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, LA Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, London Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestras. In recital, he has performed at Spivey Hall, La Jolla Music Society, Celebrity Series of Boston, CU Artist Series, Cliburn Concerts, Krannert Center, Wolf Trap Discovery Series, Lied Center of Kansas and UVM Lane Series, among others. International tours have taken him to cities including Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Dresden, Rome, Tivoli, Verbier, Montpellier, Helsingborg, Bogota, and Belgrade.
Haochen is also an avid chamber musician, collaborating with colleagues such as the Shanghai String Quartet and Benjamin Beilman and is frequently invited by chamber music festivals in the United States including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and La Jolla Summerfest.
Haochen’s performances at the Cliburn Competition were released to critical acclaim by Harmonia Mundi in 2009. He is also featured in Peter Rosen’s award-winning documentary chronicling the 2009 Cliburn Competition, A Surprise in Texas.
Haochen is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied under Gary Graffman. He previously trained at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Shenzhen Arts School, where he was admitted in 2001 at the age of 11 to study with Professor Dan Zhaoyi
In The News
DAVID WEININGER, BOSTON GLOBE: “Shanghai grasps range of Beethoven quartets”
[The Shanghai Quartet] are unafraid to intervene in the music’s narrative flow when it serves an expressive purpose, as it did virtually everywhere. The quartet’s sound is plush but always translucent enough to appreciate each player’s distinctive qualities… Continue Reading
JAMES LEONARD, ALLMUSIC: “AllMusic Review”
he Shanghai Quartet has the tonal beauty of the Quartetto Italiano, the flexible ensemble of the Emerson Quartet, and the integrity of the Alban Berg Quartet, plus a supple sound and a fresh style that are ultimately all its own… Continue Reading
Programs in Peak Performances’ 2018-19 season are made possible in part by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.