Ding Zhi Nuo is the daughter of the late famous composer, Ding Shan. She graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1962 and is currently a Professor there. As a student, she participated in the Berlin and Schumann International String Quartet Competition and was one of the prize recipients in 1960. After graduation, she remained in the conservatory to engage in violin and chamber music teaching and has cultivated many excellent students.
As a chamber orchestra conductor, she has conducted various orchestras and has led orchestras around the world. She was often invited to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic female Chamber Orchestra and Los Angeles Chinese Orchestra as a guest conductor.
As a professional music professor, she has arranged pieces for quartets and string ensembles that were well received by the locals and foreigners. She has also written numerous teaching materials through her teaching experience and some of which were award-winning.
In 1994, she partnered with her colleagues to form the “Ding Shan School of Music”. Summer Camps were held in Gulangyu, Harbin, Chengdu and Suzhou and all was well received by the violin teachers and children.
Some of her Artistic Achievement:
In 1958, she rearranged the string ensemble piece – “Traditional”, “Dry Thunderstorm” etc. From 1982-1983, she was sent overseas for further study and attended the Aspen Music Festival twice. On April 1985, she led the Shanghai Quartet to participate in the Portsmouth, UK International Competition and was awarded second place. In 1989 she was invited by the Central Conservatory of Music as a guest lecturer and in 1990 she published her teaching materials with Shanghai Music Publishing House. In 1992 & 1993, she led the Sound Chamber Music School to Chengdu and France respectively for performances to be held. In 2001, she was invited to the University of Houston Music Festival and Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts for masterclasses and she guest conducted Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performances in July 2001.
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Violinist and recording artist Qian Zhou is Head of Strings and Associate Professor of Violin at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.
Born in Hangzhou, China, Zhou had her early training at the Shanghai Conservatory, winning first prize in the China National Competition in 1984. In 1985, she went to the United States where she completed her studies with Berl Senofsky at the Peabody Conservatory.
At the age of only 18, Zhou received instant world-wide recognition with her brilliant triumph at the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris, breaking all precedent in the competition’s 50-year history by winning the First Grand Prize and all five major prizes. Her victory and the international attention it drew enabled her immediate access to the major halls and performing opportunities around the globe.
For more than twenty years, she has been a frequent recitalist and soloist with orchestras in Europe, United States, Asia and Africa. Past engagements include concerts with the Baltimore Symphony and Chamber, Beijing Central Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish, Bournemouth Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, National Orchestra of Ile de France, New Japan Philharmonic , Osaka Symphony, Rome Symphony, Russian Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Spanish National, Taipei Symphony and the Vienna Chamber Orchestras amongst others while recital highlights include performances at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Centre, Royal Festival Hall, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Vienna Concert Hall.
While the Washington Post praised “her expressive talents, fluid phrases and delicate, at times almost weeping, vibrato” Le Figaro commended her “great violin playing”, acknowledging her as “a very great artist”, and La Nazione in Florence noted “her performance was an inspired force…accompanied by a technical polish, communicative capacity, and an expressive candor that was absolutely enchanting.” After a performance at the Evian Festival under Rostropovich, the Dauphine Libere offered “she is a poet in the etymological sense: one who creates beauty and happiness.” Zhou’s seven CDs with the Naxos and Marco Polo labels have also drawn praise of the highest calibre. Her recording of the Beethoven concerto was described by Henry Roth in The Strad as “technically impeccable… burnished with beautifully-focused tone, a vibrato that spans the full gamut of colour, and an astute sense of pacing, all replete with sensitive nuances. ” He continued “her phrasing is breath-taking; not a note is ‘wasted’ or ignored, all delivered with a rare nobility of spirit”. Her Glazunov concerto was perceived as “extraordinary: full-blooded, suave and sophisticated, yet uncommonly thoughtful.” While her recordings of the complete Dvorak works for violin and piano were praised as “strikingly confident, each note invested with glowing lyrical import.”
Since 2003 when she moved to Singapore to become the founding Head of Strings at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, she has combined her very active performance career with a passion for teaching which has now received equivalent high-level endorsement to that of her playing. With students already achieving considerable international success in Europe, Asia, America and Australasia, she is in much demand world-wide for masterclasses and as a participant in international juries. Qian Zhou plays a 1757 J.B. Guadagnini, generously loaned by Mr and Mrs Rin Kei Mei.
During the 2009-10 season, she is scheduled to appear in Argentina, China, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, combining her enthusiasms and capacities as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and teacher.
Hailed as one of the most gifted Chinese violinists of his generation, Zuo Jun began violin studies at age six and is a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he studied with Professors Shen Guan En and Zheng Shi Sheng. In 1988, Zuo Jun’s talent was noticed by Fredell Lack and he went to the United States to study with her and subsequently with Berl Senofsky and Ariana Bronne.
Zuo Jun has been a first violinist in the Houston Symphony from 1994 to 2004. Prior to joining the Houston Symphony, he was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for a season. He has also appeared as soloist with many renowned symphony orchestras, such as the Shanghai Opera Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Radio Orchestra, Shanghai Ballet Orchestra, Jupiter Symphony Orchestra (New York), Julius Grossman Orchestra (New York), National Repertory Orchestra (Colorado), San Antonio Youth Symphony, Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra, and New Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.
Zuo Jun has been a prizewinner in prominent national and international competitions, including the first prize in the China National Violin Competition in Shanghai in 1986. Also, he was awarded prizes in the Kingsville International Music Competition in 1990, the American Music Teachers’ National Association Competition in 1989, the Corpus Christi Young Artists Competition in 1989, and the National Violin Competition of China in 1984. In 1984, Zuo Jun was invited by the China Ministry of Culture to perform in Beijing to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. In that same year, he gave a solo recital as part of the “Spring of Shanghai” Music Festival.
Critics have praised Zuo Jun’s performances for his musicality and technical brilliance. He was featured on “Good Morning America” (ABC) in 1990, interviewed by NHK in 1987, and performed live on Singapore national television in 1986 and 2004.