Haiou Zhang and his “Années de pèlerinage”: a music journey looking for the beauty

The Chinese pianist Haiou Zhang, guest of Tre­ca­sta­gni In­ter­na­tio­nal Mu­sic Fe­sti­val in Si­ci­ly, told us about his music experience around the world in the footsteps of his idol Franz Liszt

Always on the road”. If you could summarize the young and able pianist Haiou Zhang’s career this would be the most suitable expression. Always on the road for his numerous tours around Europe and the world, the Chinese pianist usually comes back to that places where he finds a special inspiration: « I am very happy to be in Sicily again to live new magical moments here», he revealed us.

ANNÉES DE PÈLERINA­GE. Always looking for a connection between the world outside and his inner universe, Zhang prefers (and not by chance) evocative and charming locations for his performances, whatever the audience is: for example, he travelled around France in May passing from the Paris to a snug place like Coutures, a small village inhabited by 191 people: « I could do a concert even for fifty people– said he – the important thing is to know that audience understands what I do and perceives the emotions I want to generate». The pilgrimage cult is inspired by his great master, Franz Liszt, who entitled An­nées de pè­le­ri­na­ge three piano collections dedicated to his travels in Europe as piano virtuoso.

REIN­TER­PRE­T YOURSELF. In addition to the travel theme, Ha­iou Zhang’s leitmotif is his relationship with the past, giving way to a future-oriented perspective at one time: « I don’t think I have an inclination for composition – admitted he – but rather for pieces reinterpretation. I think it is essential for a musician to propose personal reinterpretation of past masterpieces». The choice of such repertoire reveals the artist’s personal influence too: the first Zhang’s album was composed in honor of the two hundred years from Liszt’s birth,whereas the second one is dedicated to Mozart, a real rediscovery in his adulthood: «Mo­zart was an enemy of mine for many years. Initially, I was not a big fan of him», but «life always surprises us unexpectedly».

AN ARTISTIC EDUCATION. Truly fond of Sicily and special guest of Tre­ca­sta­gni In­ter­na­tio­nal Mu­sic Fe­sti­val in last editions, this year the Chinese pianist does not come alone: he is followed by Onu­te Gra­zi­ny­te, winner of the “Ha­iou Zhang Pia­no Award”, a contest for young musicians founded by him in Bux­te­hu­de, with the aim of promoting classical music around the world and valuing young talents. For Zhang it is important to build a direct relationship with the winners of his prize to inspire them and live unforgettable music moments together: «Mu­si­c takes us to create relationships and meet people who transmit good vibes and good feelings, creating an harmonic atmosphere».
When he talks about new generations, Zhang also refers to children that he defines “white sheets to color” because, as he says, «musicians’ mission is to communicate the importance of art».
At the same time it is not simple to follow a passion keeping it pure over time, especially for a classical musician: «Musicians are not as good to build their career as football players are. In China trend is very influential and what often matters to young people is becoming a celebrity. I think that we need to be modest and realistic ».

THE GREAT BEAUTY. Therefore, one might think that a successful musician like him already realized all his dreams, but Haiou still has many projects to carry out: he is going to play in Hamburg with the local Elb­phi­lhar­mo­nie and there is a releasing documentary about his performances around the world. Life imitates art far more than art imitates life, claimed Oscar Wilde, and Ha­iou Zhang’s greatest wish is to travel bringing music around the world as his An­nées de Pèle­ri­na­ge master did, looking for relationships and for the Great Beauty.

 

Translated into English by Daniela Marsala

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