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About the Author
Ken Smith currently divides his time between New York (where he writes for Gramophone magazine) and Hong Kong (where he serves as the Asian–performing arts critic for the Financial Times). He is Co–Music Director of the recordings Dong Folk Songs and Miao Music for China's MediaFusion Group, and he won an ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award in 2008 for his liner notes to Gil Shaham's recording of The Butterfly Lovers Concerto for Violin. Ken is also the author of Fate! Luck! Chance!, published in 2008 by Chronicle Books.

Ancient Paths, Modern Voices Blog

Changing of the Guard

A reminder for anyone still holding tickets to anything this month by Yundi Li: In late September, his November 1 recital was officially postponed to May 20, 2010, due to an illness in the family. He has also withdrawn from two neighborhood events at Flushing Town Hall: A recital program on November 2 and a master class for young pianists on November 3.

Replacing Li on November 2 (but not for the master class) will be Haochen Zhang, who became the first Chinese-born gold medalist at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in June. Zhang will perform Chopin's 24 Preludes, Liszt's Rhapsodie espagnole, and Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit. (You can hear his performance of the Ravel from the Van Cliburn finals here.)

In the past few months, the 19-year-old Zhang has already generated more excitement than any young pianist since, well, the 18-year-old Yundi Li became the first Chinese (and the youngest) pianist ever to win the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2000. Bookended by those teenage gold medalists, the first decade of the millennium may well go down in history as a turning point for Chinese pianists on the world stage. In the meantime, Zhang just performed the Chopin and Liszt in recital last night at the Beijing Music Festival, and we should have a report on this blog later in the week.

Posted by Ken Smith

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