Described by Henry Roth in The Strad as “a significant world-class artist”, Qian Zhou is recognized internationally as a violinist, recording artist and teacher of the first rank.
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 and Isaac Stern.
At the age of only 18, Qian Zhou received instant worldwide 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 twenty 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 (with David Zinman) and Chamber, Beijing Central Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish, Bournemouth Symphony, China National Symphony (Shi Shuchen), Guangzhou Symphony (Yu Long) Hong Kong Philharmonic (David Atherton), Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (Philippe Entremont), Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra (Miguel Craca Moura), Limburgs Symfonie Orkest (Salvador Mas Conde), National Orchestra of Ile de France (Jacques Mercier), New Japan Philharmonic , Osaka Symphony, Rome Symphony, Russian Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony (Lan Shui), 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. 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 continued “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”. Her recordings of the complete Dvořák works for violin piano were praised as “strikingly confident, each note invested with glowing lyrical import.”
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 and has now received high-level endorsements as a master teacher similar to those of her playing. With students already achieving considerable international success in Europe, Asia, America and Australasia, she is in much demand worldwide for master classes and as a judge in international violin competitions. Qian Zhou is currently the Chair of the Artistic Committee and jury of the Singapore International Violin Competition, the Artistic Director of the Singapore Violin Festival.
Qian Zhou plays a 1757 G. B. Guadagnini, generously loaned by Mr. and Mrs. Rin Kei Mei.