Music is food for the soul for young Chinese violinist

Updated: 2015-09-10 00:22

By Cecily Liu(

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Music is food for the soul for young Chinese violinist

Chinese violin maestro Zhang Yijia.[Photo provided to China Daily]

But there is also a more romantic story behind the choice of instrument, as the violin is what brought his father and mother together.

"When my father was teaching himself the violin during his university days, he went to the university library to borrow a violin book, and met my mother, who was working part time in the library. Because of this beautiful story, they suggested that I learn the violin, with their good wishes."

After two years of learning the instrument, Zhang gave his first performance in a local assembly hall at the age of seven to an audience of a few hundred. Even at such a young age, Zhang loved the stage.

"I get very excited when I'm performing. And at the end of a performance when the lights dim, I inevitably feel some sadness and really can't wait to get back to the stage again."

Since then, Zhang has performed at many of the world's leading concert halls, including the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House the LA Disney Hall and the Beijing Performing Arts Center, but his love for the stage has not changed.

"I feel that performing is a process of sharing and communication. What I enjoy the most is when I finish a piece and I see the expressions of enjoyment on the faces of the audience. For me, performing is a process of bring my inspirations of life and the world's beauty to a wider audience and I that's enough motivation for me," Zhang says.

At the age of seventeen, Zhang was selected to be a member of the Asian Future Star Musicians group to perform in San Francisco, and this event instilled in him the aspiration to study music in the US.

He soon saw his dream coming true, and in 2007 he started his music journey in the US, initially staying in Los Angeles for two years, before moving to New York, where he stayed for four years and obtained an undergraduate degree in violin from Mannes School of Music.

Keen to challenge himself further, Zhang travelled to London to take his masters degree in violin at the Royal Academy of Music. If the US has given him a solid foundation in classical music, then London perhaps gave the young artist an opportunity to embrace multiculturalism, experiment with new techniques and create something fresh.

One aspect of music he aspires to develop is to incorporate more traditional Chinese music elements into his playing, and in the process help Chinese music to become more widely accepted globally.

"Many great classical musicians like Puccini, Debussy, and Elgar have loved Chinese classical music and they have incorporated elements of their understanding of Chinese music into their own compositions, which became classics. I feel that there is still a lot more about Chinese music that can be shared with the world," Zhang says.

Such aspiration to make the music world more inclusive probably stems from Zhang's love for Chinese traditional music, which he sees as moving, with a subtle and lingering charm, and embodies long lasting history and tradition.