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Haochen Zhang

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Pianist Haochen Zhang has built early triumphs, including a gold medal and first prize at the Van Cliburn International Competition, into an international career. He has recorded several albums for the BIS label. Zhang was born on June 3, 1990, in Shanghai. He took up the piano at three, gave a recital at five, and performed Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, at six with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. As a child, he won several Chinese prizes, and he toured major Chinese cities at 11. The following year, he became the youngest-ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition for young musicians. Zhang moved to the U.S. in 2005 and enrolled at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he studied with Gary Graffman, the teacher of superstars Lang Lang and Yuja Wang. A year after his arrival, he performed Rachmaninov's difficult Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and at 18, he performed Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, at Carnegie Hall with the New York Youth Symphony. Zhang's competition victories were especially impressive: he became the youngest winner ever of the China International Competition and one of the youngest winners at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Texas in 2009. Under the management of the Van Cliburn Foundation, his career exploded in the early 2010s as he played some 200 concerts across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. He completed college coursework while on the road, and he has a keen interest in both Western and Chinese contemporary literature. He is noted for his prodigious musical memory, and his repertory has expanded considerably. Zhang has played concertos with major symphonic ensembles, including the London Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony. In 2017, Zhang received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and made his debut on the BIS label with a recital devoted to the music of Schumann, Liszt, Janácek, and Brahms. (Some of his Van Cliburn Competition performances had already been issued as recordings.) He followed that up in 2019 with a recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2, joining the Lahti Symphony Orchestra under conductor Dima Slobodeniouk. Zhang has continued to live in Philadelphia but has maintained his ties with China and performs there frequently. He returned in 2022 on BIS with a complete recording of Beethoven's five piano concertos, and in 2023, he released an album of Liszt's Transcendental Etudes.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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