The story appears on

Page B2

November 25, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » People

From pianist to conductor

THOUGH widely known for his interpretation of French impressionism music, 43-year-old pianist Xu Zhong is now more frequently mentioned as the conductor of his Shanghai Oriental Symphony Orchestra.

Cooperating with pianist Zuo Zhang, Xu will conduct the orchestra tomorrow night in a "Winter from Russia" concert at the Shanghai Concert Hall.

The program will feature Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 and Symphony No.6 ("Pathetique").

Xu studied music in France. He was awarded the French Order of Arts and Letters in 2010 for his contributions to China-France cultural exchanges. He founded the orchestra in 2006.

Q: You were born into a medical family. How did you start playing the piano?

A: Neither of my parents majored in music, but we kept a piano owned by my uncle, who was a singer. That was a magic toy for me in my childhood in the 1970s when there wasn't much entertainment. Unlike most children today who are forced to play the piano, I discovered great fun in the black and white keys in my early years.

Q: How did you become interested in French impressionist music, especially Debussy?

A: I don't think French impressionism works fully represent my achievements, though many Chinese people hold that narrow view, probably because of my academic experience in France. I was taught to be a comprehensive musician handling all kinds of music, from Baroque to modern. Only by playing all can you choose your strongest areas and let that be a label. Impressionism music may be mine. I spent years learning about the art, literature, history and music in France, which all contributed to my interpretation of music. In my opinion, impressionism music and art are very similar to traditional Chinese poetry and ink-wash painting, in which you can always find a clear part from a seemingly blurred picture.

Q: How did you shift from being a successful pianist to conductor?

A: The transformation just happened when all the conditions were ripe, or as we Chinese say, a ditch is formed when water flows along. The piano is a special instrument that can present multiple vocal parts, just like a band or orchestra. Therefore, a pianist has much in common with a conductor. However, a piano cannot present as broad and magnificent a voice as a symphony orchestra. So the yearning to present a more powerful musical form influenced

Q: You have been running Shanghai Oriental Symphony Orchestra as a private orchestra for five years. How is it progressing?

A: Surviving the market for five years already proves its success. Of course there were difficulties at first, since the new orchestra was unknown and many people were skeptical. But I believe a market-oriented orchestra with modern scientific management is feasible in China, and may become a more common in the future. Of course, we are not very profitable. But a music career is not an art of investment that makes money. Being known and accepted by more listeners is our biggest reward.

Q: It is said that the "Winter from Russia" concert is a celebration of the birthday of your first piano teacher Wang Yu. Is this so?

A: It happens that the concert coincides with the anniversary of the death of my teacher. But I didn't arrange the concert for that purpose. The aim of the concert is to provide beautiful music for the public; remembering my teacher is something personal. I just want the audience to appreciate beautiful music. I chose two Tchaikovsky works that bring the beauty of Russian winter to Shanghai.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend