The greatest measure of success is when the student becomes the master. Learning enough to become a confident teacher is a mark of respect to both instructor and instructed. On March 15, witness “From Teacher to Pupil” with the return of Juilliard-based pianist Angie Zhang to the Olympia Symphony Orchestra.

New York pianist Angie Zhang will perform Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto in her fourth appearance with the Olympia Symphony on March 15, 2020. Photo courtesy: Olympia Symphony Orchestra

Zhang began her solo career at 10-years-old. Primarily a pianist, she has also debuted on harpsichord and as a conductor. Three-time winner of Juilliard’s Concerto Competition, she now holds a teaching fellowship there as well as maintaining a private studio for her many piano students. Originally from Portland, she worked with Maestro Huw Edwards in the early days of performing.

“Maestro Huw Edwards has been an instrumental force in my musical development since we first crossed paths when I was 10-years-old,” says Zhang. “He quickly engaged me after hearing me play for another event and no combination of words can express my thorough gratitude towards his unending support of my talent and work for over a decade.”

And she hasn’t let success or distance keep her away from the Pacific Northwest. “Since our first collaboration together in Portland, we have worked together almost every year on some of the greatest masterpieces including Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and a number of Mozart concerti,” she explains. “Working with him is every musician’s dream because he allows programming to be a team effort; together, we discuss what could bring audiences most joy or curiosity and the final repertoire choice is always a blast for everyone on and offstage.” This will be Zhang’s fourth appearance as a soloist with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra.

For the upcoming March concert, Zhang will perform Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with what she calls her “orchestra away from home.” Beethoven’s final concerto will be preceded by Haydn’s final symphony, No. 104 “London.” The concert’s title, “From Teacher to Pupil,” is derived from Beethoven’s relationship to Haydn, and is a play on the Symphony’s vision-themed season. “Beethoven traveled from his native Bonn to Vienna in the hope of studying with Mozart, but Mozart died while en route and Beethoven then learned from ‘Old Papa Haydn,’ known as the father of the symphony,” writes Maestro Edwards.

Huw Edwards and Angie Zhang at their first performance together in 2007. Photo courtesy: Olympia Symphony Orchestra

Working with artists like Zhang is an ongoing part of the Olympia Symphony Orchestra’s mission to “enrich, educate, and entertain.” They strive to positively impact students through scholarships, masterclasses, and mentorship, as well as outreach into local schools. Touching so many lives through music impacts the community for generations to come.

“Every year we appoint a high school senior to become a member of the orchestra, receiving experience and mentorship from professional musicians,” explains Executive Director Jennifer Hermann. “They participate in all rehearsals, perform in all concerts, and receive a scholarship check at the end of the season to fund their college studies in music. This year our Wittgow Family Scholar and Student Apprentice is Nathan Landers, a promising young clarinetist who will be graduating from Olympia High School.”

In April local student performers will work one-on-one with New York violinist Kristin Lee in a masterclass setting and receive a ticket to her April performance with the Symphony. And along the same lines, students from the Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO) recently completed an interactive Side by Side mentorship experience. “In October and November, SOGO students attended OSO rehearsals and took notes on Dvorak’s New World Symphony, observing the conductor and listening to instruction,” says Hermann. “They then attended our November concert and experienced the final performance. The students began rehearsing the same music in January, and at the end of the month our musicians attended their rehearsal and played side-by-side with them, sharing a music stand and offering instruction and encouragement. We value our partnership with our youth orchestra. Many of our musicians got their start in youth orchestra, and someday these students will mentor and inspire a generation after them.”

Nathan Landers, 2019-2020 Wittgow Family Scholar and Student Apprentice (Olympia High School graduating class of 2020). Photo courtesy: Olympia Symphony Orchestra

The concert will be held at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Olympia. Tickets are available online, by calling 360-753-8586, or at the Box Office. The ticket window is open from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday and two hours before any ticketed event. The Olympia Symphony, in partnership with Columbia Bank, is pleased to offer free tickets to all members of households whose students are enrolled in free and reduced-price lunch programs in Thurston, Lewis, and Mason Counties through the “Music for All” program. Contact the OSO office for information on how to obtain tickets.

Get a feel for Angie Zhang’s skillful style through her YouTube channel or follow her on Facebook for upcoming events and information.

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