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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Nicole Roales
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, June 30, 2008

IU Jacobs School student wins competition, will perform with the Indianapolis Symphony

June 30, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A 15-year-old piano student in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music has won the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's Young Musicians Contest and will perform with the orchestra July 18 and 19.

Jingxuan Zhang, a high school student admitted to IU Bloomington's On-campus Precollege Enrollment-Nondegree program (OPEN), has studied piano with IU Professor Arnaldo Cohen for nearly two years. Zhang will perform the first movement of Schumann's Concerto in A Minor with the Indianapolis Symphony, conducted by Alfred Savia, during the Marsh Symphony on the Prairie Series in Fishers, Ind., as part of his first-place prize.

Arnaldo Cohen (left) rehearses with Jingxuan Zhang.

Print-Quality Photo

"For any student, it's a dream to have this wonderful chance of playing with a great orchestra such as the Indianapolis Symphony," Cohen said. "This is the result of Jingxuan's hard work. He is a delightful young man, smart and with a wonderful sense of humor. At 15, he already has an outstanding musical maturity which predicts a very bright future ahead of him."

The Michael Ben and Illene Komisarow Maurer Young Musicians Contest encourages young Indiana musicians to set and achieve goals of technical and artistic excellence by providing accomplished student instrumentalists an opportunity to perform in a competitive setting. The competition is open to Indiana students through the 12th grade. In addition to performing with the symphony, Zhang received the Michael Ben and Illene Komisarow Maurer Award and $1,000.

The Schumann concerto that Zhang will perform with the Indianapolis Symphony is the same piece he played in winning the competition. David Cartledge, a professor in the Department of Piano in the Jacobs School of Music, has heard Zhang perform and praised his talent.

"I had the pleasure of hearing Jingxuan play the Schumann Piano Concerto earlier this year and found him to be an impressive young pianist, with great vitality, an assured technique and a powerful sense of musical direction -- it was an exciting performance," Cartledge said. "This young man's composure and achievements exceed his years."

Zhang was born in Beijing. He began taking piano lessons at age 5, and, within two years, he was studying with a professor at the Chinese Conservatory in Beijing. In 2001 his family moved to Maryland, then to central Indiana in September 2002. The family now resides in Carmel. For five years, he studied with a private instructor, Ada Shebanova, and under her tutelage, he earned many prizes, including prizes from the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati.

Zhang has already earned many awards, including Concerto and Solo Grand Prizes in the Young Artist Division of the World Piano Competition of the American Music Scholarship Association (Cincinnati, Ohio) in 2004 and 2005, consecutively. As part of his award, he performed twice at Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. In 2005 and 2006 he received scholarships from the IU Piano Academy, and performed twice in Honor's Recitals with this program. He also has received a scholarship from Carmel Arts Council.

Zhang participates in Cohen's studio classes, which allow him to socialize with advanced students. Zhang said he enjoys being a student at IU with Cohen because of his knowledge and professional training.

"I learned that playing fast and loud isn't everything, and that music is about phrasing dynamics and all the little details," Zhang said.

For Zhang, playing the piano is a joy and constitutes a large part of his life outside of school. He spends many hours working on his pieces. "The sheer beauty of the music moves me very much," Zhang said.

Ticket Information

Zhang will perform with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m., July 18 and 19. His performance will be featured during the orchestra's Marsh Symphony on the Prairie Series at Conner Prairie in Fishers, Ind. The theme of both concerts is "Heroes and Victors" and will feature classic cinematic works from the greatest sports films of all time, including Rudy, Hoosiers, Rocky, Chariots of Fire and Breaking Away, performed by the orchestra with film highlights displayed on two giant video screens.

For ticket information call 317-639-4300 or 800-366-8457 (outside Central Indiana) Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.