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Nancy Zhou

Nancy Zhou

Nancy Zhou


AGC 608


Courses Taught

Violin Performance


Artist Diploma - Queen Elisabeth Music Chapelle

Bachelor of Arts in English - Harvard University

Awards and Distinctions

2018 Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition - First Prize


What is your hometown?

San Antonio, Texas

What is your favorite recording?

I have to pluralize "recording"! To start, Carlos Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic's rendition of Brahms' 4th Symphony resonates so resoundingly with me - the balance between crystalline yet tender lyricism and contrapuntal complexity seems to me a metaphor for life. The other recording that I absolutely adore is NDR Radiophilharmonie's performance of Sofia Gubaidulina's "Fairytale Poem". Gubaidulina, a force of empathetic nature and a beacon of transcendence of the human spirit, sonically depicts the "dreams" of a mundane piece of chalk, who is subjugated to a life of unimaginative uses and yearns to draw the wonders of nature. The ensemble's way of handling the work's textures and colors, coupled with the story, make this recording so arresting.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Cooking plant-based recipes, reading, exercising, and watching Breaking Bad for the nth time.

Who were your major teachers? (List three or fewer.)

Miriam Fried, David Nadien, and Augustin Dumay.

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

As a musician, how does one find the intersection of mindfulness, logical clarity, courage, and emotional sensitivity?

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

I decided to pursue music as a career when I made my first feeble attempt at composing a soundtrack for Samuel Beckett's play, "Waiting for Godot" - as part of my high school senior project.

What is your daily practice routine?

I spend half an hour or so working on open strings and a few, select exercises from the Dounis Collection (on rotation by the week). Then, I proceed with segmented practice for pieces I need to work on during the moment.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Bach, Korngold, Gubaidulina.

What is your unrealized project?

A debut commercial recording (currently in the works...)!

What do you think makes a concert experience unique?

A live concert is a beautiful example of communion. The sheer act of people walking into a single venue to hear the program of works in the hands of an artist(s) is special. Only the resonance and energy of both live audience and perfomer can ensure a successful intersection of the spatial, sonic, and kinesthetic.

What are your most important collaborations?

- New Jersey Symphony with Maestra Xian Zhang

- Carnegie Hall premiere of Unsuk Chin's "Gran Duo" for Two Solo Violins with Anne-Sophie Mutter

- Royal Stockholm Philharmonic with Maestro Sakari Oramo

As a soloist, what are some ensembles that you've performed with?

- San Diego Symphony

- Hong Kong Philharmonic

- Munich Symphony 


Lauded as one of today's probing musical voices, Nancy Zhou harbors a robust presence that seeks to invigorate appreciation for the art and science of the violin. Her thoughtful musicianship resonates with a global audience in such a way that brings her on stage with leading orchestras around the world.

Nancy has collaborated with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Würzburg Philharmonic, and Finnish Radio Symphony; Shanghai and China National Symphonies and Hong Kong Philharmonic; San Diego and Kansas City Symphonies, among others. Alongside projects as a soloist, she harbors keen interest in chamber music and music education. She has performed for the Tanglewood, Verbier, Ravinia Festivals and, for various online platforms and workshops, presented masterclasses on fundamental training and cultivating mindful awareness critical to performance.

The past seasons, the violinist has explored works outside the traditional oeuvre. In collaboration with the New Jersey Symphony and conductor Xian Zhang, she presented Zhao Jiping’s first violin concerto at Alice Tully Hall and gave the premiere of Unsuk Chin’s “Gran Cadenza” for two violins with Anne-Sophie Mutter across the US; in the forthcoming season, she will perform Chen Qigang’s “La joie de la souffrance” with the Rogue Valley Symphony and embark on a five-city tour with the major orchestras of China.

American-born, Nancy commenced violin studies with her father, later studying with Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory while simultaneously pursuing her interest in literature at Harvard University. She is additionally an Associated Artist at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel and Artist-in-Residence of the Santa Cruz Symphony.