Zhi-Jong Wang Official Website | news

  • 9 Oct, 2011BBC Radio Manchester interview
    BBS Manchester
  • Interviewer - Ben PENG
    Interviewee - Zhi-Jong WANG

  • BEN PENG: Please give us a brief introduction of yourself first.
  • ZHI-JONG WANG: I was born in Shanghai and I started playing the violin when I was 3 years old. Then, I studied at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music from the age of 9, starting in their primary school and continuing through to their graduate course.
    Now I live in Berlin where I studied at the Musikhochschule with Prof. Kolja Blacher – the ex-concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic - and I also work as his assistant.
  • BEN PENG: Sounds your experience is really rich and it's a multi-dimension experience. So actually for your own music, what's the inspiration of it?
  • ZHI-JONG WANG: In fact, there is so much that inspires me, that it is a combination of them all. I am very interested in history, nature, painting and lots of things so I sure that certain colours or words I have seen, or a landscape or event can inspire the way I react to a certain passage or piece of music and influence how I want to play it. Even everyday events like sitting in a café and watching people can inspire me…I can invent personality or characters from them who correspond to a phrase. I think, probably everything we all experience in life inspires us in what we do creatively which is why we have to use all events positively.
  • BEN PENG: That sounds quite special – all the surroundings can inspire your music. So when you are doing your own music, will you add a hint of oriental touch to your music or you will be quite keen to the traditional western style classical music?
  • ZHI-JONG WANG: Not consciously, but as I am Chinese and grew up and studied for many years in Shanghai I am sure there is an oriental touch somewhere!
  • BEN PENG: Could you give us an example?
  • ZHI-JONG WANG: I like to play contemporary music as well as the famous concerti and especially pieces by the young Chinese composers such as Bright Sheng, Chen Qiangbing, Chen Qigang who was the last student of Messiaen. And also I like to play Butterfly Lovers, because my former teacher – Ms. Lina YU was the first performer of this concerto. I also play this piece frequently. As for promoting the Chinese culture, sometimes after a concerto I will add a short Chinese piece as an encore and audience is usually very positive.
  • BEN PENG: What is the biggest challenge in your career? Is it difficult to separate the music work from your life?
  • ZHI-JONG WANG: It is difficult to separate my career from my life because they are very much inter-twined. One period that was very difficult for me – but also very positive and necessary – was moving to Germany by myself. I felt very alone as it was the first time I had lived away from Shanghai where my parents live. I did not speak the language, so communication and making friends, as well as doing everyday tasks, was very difficult and time-consuming and I had less time to play the violin. At this time I began to question everything: what was I doing here, did I really think the violin had been the right choice…I know my playing was getting better but sometimes it was just a struggle.

    Then I read a lot of Chinese and other Asian philosophers, especially Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. Actually, it helped change my thinking. When I was young I thought that if you worked very hard for something eventually you would get a good and comfortable result. When I moved to Germany I found out that no matter how hard I worked at language or whatever, I still had problems. These philosophers taught me that sometimes you can work very hard and still not get a result it can be because the timing is not right, so now when this happens, I just sit back and relax for a while – still working of course but focusing less on the result.
  • BEN PENG: Definitely, you've got a lot of chances to participate or attend or international events and performance. So during this process, or during this period, how would you promote Chinese culture?
  • ZHI-JONG WANG: Well, as I said earlier, (I play) traditional classical concerto frequently and I will also add a short Chinese piece as encore. And sometimes if I have a recital, I will also play a short Chinese contemporary piece in the programme. In Europe, many people are very interested in Chinese culture. For me, it's a privilege to do so, to perform for them and to introduce the Chinese music to them.