15 minutes with Pianist Haiou Zhang

We’ve always been enthralled by the magic that a musician can deliver on stage, carving a world with aural notes that never fail to draw us in.

A pianist whose gifts at which the great Horowitz would smile approvingly, and founder of one of the world’s most successful classical music institutions, Haiou Zhang has come a long way from his first piano lessons at nine years old to performing at sell-out recitals around the world.

As he readies himself for his recital Dawn and Sublimation Singapore 2022 – which marks the tour’s only stop in Asia – we sit down with him to find out what lies beneath his gifted prowess.


, 15 minutes with Pianist Haiou Zhang


We heard you were never a fan of piano competitions.

I was never a fan of piano competitions. It’s rather different from sports. In sports, you win once you better a certain mark or hit a certain amount of time. But when it comes to the arts, to music, it’s a different thing to measure. So much has been performed and redone, hundreds and thousands of times – what’s special about yours is that you tell your story through this medium. It’s complicated, but it’s fascinating because it’s complicated.


What would you be if not a pianist?

I’d probably have wanted to become a writer like Hemingway.


Is genius 99% perspiration?

There’s no other way around it. Dealing with masterpieces, you’d have to work even harder to be its master. Talent alone is not enough if you want to appear onstage and take this as a profession. It’s about the work put in and not about showing off your talents on an instrument.


, 15 minutes with Pianist Haiou Zhang


If there’s somebody you’d like to collaborate with, dead or alive, who would it be?

I’d like to collaborate with Franz Liszt on two pianos. He was revolutionary as a pianist and has been my idol since I was a kid.


Only Franz Liszt?

I mean, not just Franz Liszt. Why not Beethoven? Why not Mozart? I’d like to get to know Chopin and all of the others!


Have you ever missed out on anything because of your dedication to music?

I rarely feel as if I’ve missed out on anything. Most of the time, I find myself filled with good energy, and music is something I feel every day. It’s never a job; it’s much more than that. I’d not be able to imagine myself without music.


, 15 minutes with Pianist Haiou Zhang


What kind of music do you personally listen to?

Classical, of course, and jazz. Currently, I’m listening to the Yellow River Piano Concerto. It’s a composition I would recommend to people who are not the typical piano-music fanatic.


What would you say are things that world-class musicians have in common?

Difficult characters. We transform all the time to deliver different interpretations and emotions. It’s rather extreme to be constantly working with such compositions, to understand this universal language and reinterpret it with our own personality.


, 15 minutes with Pianist Haiou Zhang


Any advice for young musicians out there?

Plan as clearly as possible. What do you want to achieve in five years after your study? What repertoire would you like to build? Which competitions would you like to go for? Explore cultures, people, and languages. Study as much as you can, and listen to good concerts out there. I know it may be uncomfortable, but go explore with the spirit of Columbus: sail out, and you’ll find out.


Find out more about Haiou Zhang on his official website here, or stay up to date with his latest news on Facebook here.