Pianist Zhou Tianyu: The keys are her life

Editor:Sharon Lee
Source:嶄仟利
Updated:2016-08-02 11:44:24

Zhou Tianyu, 22, has made her name by winning a number of awards and touring the world. (Photo provided to China Daily)

Zhou Tianyu, 22, has made her name by winning a number of awards and touring the world. (Photo provided to China Daily)

  At first glance, in her white T-shirt and blue jeans, Chinese-Canadian pianist Zhou Tianyu seemed like an overseas student spending her summer vacation in Beijing.

  However, the 22-year-old had returned to China to give shows and master classes in Wuhan, Hubei province, and Changsha, Hunan province.

  It's a busy summer for the young classical pianist, who has made her name by winning a number of awards and touring the world.

  In June, she performed at a concert to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland.

  In August, she will perform at one of Poland's biggest music festivals, the open air Evening of Chopin Concert. And in September, she will give a recital at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

  In her programs, Zhou not only performs pieces familiar to Chinese audienceslike Mozart's Sonata in C major and Franz Liszt's Venezia e Napoli: Tarantella, but also works that surprise them, such as Schumann's Kreisleriana Op. 16 and Spanish pianist-composer Enrique Granados' Allegro de Concierto, Op. 46.

  "I listen to a variety of music, such as opera and symphonies. I also like listening to hip-hop while working out at the gym. So when I play the piano, I am not just playing the instrument but incorporating different musical influences," says Zhou.

  She is currently pursuing her master's degree at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Poland, an established music school founded in 1929, whose alumni include composer Wojciech Kilar and pianist Krystian Zimerman.

  In the early 1980s, Chinese parents in big cities started to send their children to learn the piano and violin. And Zhou was one of them.

  However, unlike millions of children in the country, who learn Western instruments only because they are pushed by their parents, Zhou was keen to learn the piano.

  Recalling her interest, her mother, Xiang Yaqi, says: "Usually children would fall asleep when they listened to slow and soft classical music, but she was very focused.

  "We didn't want her to become a professional pianist but it seemed like she was fated to be a pianist."

  Zhou, whose father is a composer, was born in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, and grew up in Beijing. At age 4, she started learning the piano with her mother, who has majored in piano and vocal performance at Central China Normal University in Wuhan.

  She made such rapid progress that she gave her first public performance one year later.

  She moved with her parents to Canada when she was 9 and received a scholarship to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.