07. June 2009 · Comments Off on Cliburn & Haochen Zhang · Categories: Cliburn Competition, Videos

Another, this time about the youngest contestant. (He turned 19 last week.)

Nancy Liu said she wanted her son to study in the United States so he could have a normal high school education instead of just an intensive musical regimen, which would have been the case in China. Zhang graduated last year from a Catholic high school, which he attended in the morning while taking Curtis classes in the afternoon.

Many interests

Over the years, Zhang’s interests have gone in different directions. At one point, he informed his mother that he’d rather become a novelist and a poet. There was the Chinese pop song-writing phase. And after becoming proficient at pool, Zhang announced that his true ambition was to become a professional snooker player.

Liu, who has no serious musical background but has developed a discerning ear, said she reeled him back to the keyboard while trying hard not to dampen his natural curiosity or have him burn out. To avoid the latter, “I made sure he got a complete education. So if he feels at the bottom of heart he wants to walk away from music, I am sure he would succeed at what he chooses,” she said in a combination of English and Chinese, which was translated by her cousin June Xiao.

Right now, the 5-foot, 8-inch Zhang has shelved ideas of becoming the consummate Renaissance man, concentrating on perfecting his music skills “while I am still young enough to learn.”

I love this. He isn’t all music, only music, can’t do anything else no matter what. Because if it all was taken away — and while I’d never wish this on anyone, things go wrong (ears, for instance, although I’m managing to deal) — life goes on. Besides, I think having other interests actually helps with one’s music. Maybe I’m all wet (extremely possible!), but there you have my little opinion.

Final Recital hasn’t been posted to YouTube yet. This is the semifinal. I’ll update later:

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