Head of Strings


Head of Strings



Born in Hangzhou, China, Qian Zhou had her early training at the Shanghai Conservatory, winning first prize in the China National Competition in 1984. In 1985, she went to the United States where she completed her studies with Berl Senofsky at the Peabody Conservatory, before being also personally mentored by Piero Weiss.

At the age of 18, Qian Zhou received instant world-wide recognition with her brilliant triumph at the 1987 Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris, breaking all precedent in the competition's 50-year history by winning the First Grand Prize and all five major prizes. Her victory and the international attention it drew enabled her immediate access to the major halls and performing opportunities around the globe.

For more than 20 years, she has been a frequent recitalist and soloist with orchestras in Europe, United States, Asia and Africa. Past engagements include concerts with the Baltimore Symphony and Chamber, Beijing Central Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish, Bournemouth Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, National Orchestra of Ile de France, New Japan Philharmonic , Osaka Symphony, Rome Symphony, Russian Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Spanish National, Taipei Symphony and the Vienna Chamber Orchestras amongst others while recital highlights include performances at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Centre, Royal Festival Hall, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Vienna Concert Hall. While the Washington Post praised “her expressive talents, fluid phrases and delicate, at times almost weeping, vibrato, ” Le Figaro commended her "great violin playing”, acknowledging her as “a very great artist", and La Nazione in Florence noted “her performance was an inspired force…accompanied by a technical polish, communicative capacity, and an expressive candor that was absolutely enchanting”. After a performance at the Evian Festival under Rostropovich, the Dauphiné Libéré offered “she is a poet in the etymological sense: one who creates beauty and happiness".

Qian Zhou’s ten CDs with the Naxos, Hugo and Hungaraton labels have embraced a wide range of repertoire from Bach to Bartok to also drawn praise of the highest calibre. Her recording of the Beethoven concerto was described by Henry Roth in The Strad as “technically impeccable… burnished with beautifully-focused tone, a vibrato that spans the full gamut of colour, and an astute sense of pacing, all replete with sensitive nuances“. He noted, “her phrasing is breath-taking; not a note is ‘wasted’ or ignored, all delivered with a rare nobility of spirit”. Her Glazunov concerto was perceived as “extraordinary: full-blooded, suave and sophisticated, yet uncommonly thoughtful”, while her recordings of the complete Dvorak works for violin piano were praised as “strikingly confident, each note invested with glowing lyrical import".

Recent performances have included performances in Argentina, China, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, combining her enthusiasms and capacities as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and teacher. In December 2012, she was selected by CCTV for a programme which highlighted the 10 Outstanding Violinists of China. Upcoming performances include concertos in Australia, China, Hungary, Italy, Japan Russia and the Ukraine, with festivals including Qingdao (China), Bangalow, (Australia), InterHarmony (Italy) and Keshet Eilon (Israel).

As the founding Head of Strings at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, she has combined her very active performance career with a passion for teaching which has now received equivalent high-level endorsement to that of her playing. With students already achieving considerable international success in Europe, Asia, America and Australasia, she is in much demand world-wide for masterclasses and as a participant in international juries.

Qian Zhou was promoted to Full Professor by NUS from 1 July. Qian Zhou’s contributions to the Conservatory from its inception have been of profound significance in shaping our identity and reputation. The distinctive quality of her teaching, mentorship (of students, curriculum and faculty), performances, leadership of a range of institutional, national and international projects and international ambassadorial interactions are now recognised globally.

Qian Zhou plays a 1757 J.B. Guadagnini, generously loaned by the late Mr Rin Kei Mei and Mrs Rin Kei Mei.