In a thrilling announcement, Maestro Daniel Stewart has revealed that the internationally acclaimed soloist, Nancy Zhou, will grace the Santa Cruz Symphony as its newest Concertmaster and Artist in Residence. This title not only recognizes her standing as one of the world’s foremost violin virtuosos but also anticipates her innovative contributions to chamber music programming and the development of special engagement projects.

Santa Cruz Symphony - Artist in Residence and Concertmaster, Nancy Zhou
Credit: Santa Cruz Symphony

A musical force with a probing voice and searing virtuosity, Nancy Zhou’s musicianship resonates globally, placing her on stage with leading orchestras worldwide. The winner of the 2018 Shanghai Isaac Stern Violin Competition, Zhou made her orchestral debut at the age of 13 with her hometown San Antonio Symphony.

Since then, she has collaborated with renowned orchestras such as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Munich Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, among others. Zhou has shared the stage with esteemed conductors like Jaap van Zweden, Sakari Oramo, Peter Oundjian, Eun Sun Kim, Christoph Poppen, and others of equal stature.

Santa Cruz Symphony - Artist in Residence and Concertmaster, Nancy Zhou

Beyond her solo career, Zhou has a passion for chamber music and mentoring young musicians. She has graced international music festivals and served as a guest artist and faculty at the Encore Chamber Music Festival in 2017. Zhou, a dedicated educator, conducts masterclasses and private lessons, extending her expertise to students globally through an online studio.

Zhou’s repertoire extends beyond the traditional, as she has presented works like Zhao Jiping’s first violin concerto and given the U.S. premiere of Unsuk Chin’s “Gran Cadenza” for two solo violins alongside Anne-Sophie Mutter. Future endeavors include performances of Chen Qigang’s “La joie de la souffrance” and a commissioned work for solo violin and electronics by composer Vivian Fung. This project aims to explore the intersection of Zhou’s personal family oral history, folk minority culture, and music.

Born in Texas to Chinese immigrants, Nancy Zhou learned the violin from her father and studied with Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory while pursuing literature at Harvard University. She is also an Associated Artist of the Queen Elisabeth Chapel, where she studied under the guidance of Augustin Dumay. The Santa Cruz Symphony welcomes Nancy Zhou as a dynamic addition, anticipating an exciting era of musical excellence and innovation under her leadership.

Nancy’s first performance with the Santa Cruz Symphony this season will take place October 21 at the Santa Cruz Civic and October 22 at the Henry J Mello Center. Get your tickets here.

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