Pianist Lauren Zhang wins BBC Young Musician 20188:48, 14th May 2018
16-year-old pianist Lauren Zhang has been crowned BBC Young Musician 2018.
The final, which took place on 13 May at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, saw the three finalists perform with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Wigglesworth.
Zhang’s performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 2 secured her the top prize, ahead of 18-year-old saxophonist Robert Burton and 18-year-old cellist Maxim Calver. Chair of the judging panel Kerry Andrew said: ‘Lauren’s performance left us all breathless! Her exceptional level of technical skill and intelligent musicality shone through in a beast of a piece.’
Born in New Mexico and raised in Charleston, Illinois, Zhang began to learn the piano at the age of four. She applied for the Birmingham Junior Conservatoire in 2010 while her mother was taking a sabbatical year in the city. Despite planning to return to the USA, Zhang has stayed in Birmingham to continue having piano lessons with her current teacher, Dr Robert Markham. She is currently studying for her GCSEs.
‘Having spent a lifetime making music with some of the world’s finest musicians, said Julian Lloyd Webber, principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, ‘I can honestly say that Lauren is up there with the best – she is a total phenomenon.’
Of her win, Zhang commented: ‘It’s astonishing – I can’t believe it! It’s been a fantastic opportunity to play with the CBSO and the journey right from the start of the competition has been incredible.’
Forthcoming appearances for Zhang will include a performance on the BBC Radio 3 stage at BBC Music’s The Biggest Weekend on 28 May, and also at the BBC Young Musician 40th anniversary concert at the BBC Proms on 15 July.