We’re featuring an interview with and music from double bass soloist DaXun Zhang this week on Contrabass Conversations. The winner of numerous prestigious solo competitions, DaXun is a true virtuoso, capable of a level of musical expression and technical dexterity rarely seen on the instrument.
In this first segment of our interview (which we will conclude next week), we discuss DaXun’s early years on the instrument, his studies at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and his relocation to the Interlochen Arts Academy in high school. We intersperse musical selections from DaXun’s recent self-titled solo album into the interview in the following order:
- Invention No. 6 by J.S. Bach
- Invention No. 11 by J.S. Bach
- Capriccio di Bravura by Giovanni Bottesini
Learn more about DaXun on his website at daxunzhang.com. Enjoy!
“If the bass is finally to produce a headliner, the instrument can have no better champion,” wrote The Washington Post of double bassist DAXUN ZHANG, who has indeed made his mark as a soloist on this unusual instrument.
In April 2007, Mr. Zhang won an Avery Fisher Career Grant, only the second double bassist in the history of this prestigious award. This summer he was invited by cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han to participate in the chamber music festival Music@Menlo in California and performs Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet at the Indiana University Summer Chamber Music Series. During the 2007-2008 season he continues his residency with Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society Two, and performs with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project in a series of concerts and cultural exchanges in China. He performs as soloist with the University of Northern Colorado Symphony and gives recitals at Indiana University, Rodef Shalom Congregation (PA), and McCain Performances (KS).
Mr. Zhang has performed extensively with the Silk Road Project, including concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, at Carnegie Hall, and in Japan and California. With Mr. Ma he recorded the soundtrack to a 10-part documentary series on the Silk Road, which aired in Japan on NHK Television. The CD was released as “Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon” on Sony Classical. He has also joined with fellow Silk Road musician and pipa player Yang Wei and pianist Tomoko Kashiwagi to form the innovative chamber ensemble Qi Lin.
As concerto soloist, Mr. Zhang has appeared with orchestras including Orange County’s Pacific Symphony, the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle and the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra. He has given recitals at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, the University of Georgia, Missouri State University, and at the Chinese Embassy in the Embassy Series in Washington, DC. He has also performed chamber music at the La Jolla Music Society’s Summerfest, the Linton Chamber Music Series in Cincinnati, the Strings in the Mountains Music Festival and the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival.
DaXun Zhang is the first double bass player to win the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and start a career under the auspices of Young Concert Artists. He made his New York debut sponsored by the Claire Tow Prize and his Washington, DC debut as a co-presentation with Washington Performing Arts Society. He also won the La Jolla Music Society Prize, the Orchestra New England Soloist Prize, and The Fergus Prize. In April 2006, Mr. Zhang performed Bizet’s Carmen Fantasy in at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall with Keith Lockhart conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
DaXun Zhang comes from a family of bassists in Harbin, China. He has been playing the instrument since the age of nine, and studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing beginning at the age of eleven. He continued his studies in the U.S. at the Interlochen Arts Academy and received his Bachelor of Music at the Indiana University School of Music, where he worked with Lawrence Hurst. He has served on the faculty of Northwestern University and was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Double Bass at the University of Texas at Austin.
Mr. Zhang was the first double bassist ever to win First Prize in the 2003 WAMSO (Women’s Auxiliary of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra) competition, leading to a performance with the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra with Osmo Vanska, conducting. In 2001, Mr. Zhang was the youngest artist ever to win the International Society of Bassists Solo Competition. He has also received the Grand Prize of the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition.
Music Provided by:
Eric Hochberg –www.erichochberg.com
Special thanks to Daniel Chmielinski for technical assistance – www.carsleuth.net
Release Date: 8/23/08
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