Each week we will be sharing some fun stories and facts about our 2023 Schwab Vocal Rising Stars! Starting on March 6th, they will be rehearsing and living at Caramoor up until their performance on March 12th. We hope you will join us!
This week we are introduced to pianist Yihao Zhou!
The moon was full on the night Yihao Zhou was born. Wishing him a comfortable life and a future as bright as that moon, his grandpa chose the two syllables of his name: “yi” which in Chinese means “at ease,” and “hao” for “bright.”
Fast-forward five years to Yihao’s kindergarten class in Beijing, where one day he was asked to register for afterschool music lessons. The only options were piano and violin. Yihao had never before seen a violin, but luckily the school housed a piano that had on occasion accompanied singing children. He picked the instrument he knew, and that — obviously! — turned out to be a happy accident.
These days, should you find yourself browsing bookshelves at The Strand in Manhattan, you might bump into Yihao with his finger on the spine of a random novel by the likes of Robertson Davies or Peter Mayle. And if he greets you with a bonjour, it’s because he’s been studying French with the goal of eventually reading his favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, in its original language.
While his literary interests lean toward adventure and revenge, sitcoms are more his style for primetime. In fact, this musical mathematician (yes, he holds a math degree too) calculates that he’s watched one too many episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
Aside from practicing piano in all the proven ways, Yihao prepares for concerts by playing along with recordings, allowing him to feel the pleasure (yet not the pressure!) of making music with the best musicians in the world. He also has a strong support system — that’s you, friends Liz and Krit, boyfriend Robert, and parents from afar — who listen to his repertoire.
Though he’s had one or two stage mishaps in his classical training (and honestly, c’est la vie!), Yihao uses those experiences as a reminder to stay humble and to always treat musicians around him kindly.