A baritone, Jianwei Zhang, EDHEC-2021 tells us all about his passion for music and singing.
Written on 19 Feb 2020.
"Music is my favorite hobby. It has been so since my earliest childhood memories when I often went to karaoke with my parents and watched concerts on TV channels. My life without melodies and harmonies would be void of sound and pleasure. Listening to and playing different tunes has helped me to de-stress, relax and self-motivate throughout many trying situations. Music is like the memoirs to my life as it has always been a part of me.
In particular, I show great enthusiasm in vocal music. As a baritone, I am well trained in opera selections, art songs, and Chinese folk songs. My performance experiences have enabled me to understand deeply the profound effect fine music has on my heart.
When I was in college, I was lucky enough to join the students’ choir and took part in numerous performances. In one particular performance, my choir was invited to participate in the New Year Choir Concert held by DAIKIN in Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Concert Hall in December 2015. We sang a very famous art song called “I love you, China” with HUANG Ying, the world-famous soprano singer. In her master class before the performance, she told us that opportunities are only for the prepared mind and that we should cherish every chance of life. I was really lucky to benefit from her lively lecture with her personal example and verbal instruction.
I was granted a Silver Award for Bel Canto in the 8th National Competition for Campus Art Rookies held in Beijing in 2017. When I was preparing my song, I struggled to master certain parts in the upper octave. I still could not make it even after 20 times of rehearsal. As nearly all of my hopes were going to be dashed into pieces, my mother suggested that I sense the theme of the song which is “I am waiting for you with my deep love”. Feelings are the essence of music and songs. Her brilliant views suddenly enlightened me. Combined with my singing skills and understanding of the song, I totally outdid myself in the official competition. I clearly remember that one of the judges took her camera and recorded my whole singing process!
SHEN Yang, the famous Chinese bass-baritone singer, is my favorite artist. In 2007, as the youngest participant of 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, he was the only Golden Price winner. He regards mentality as the decisive factor of your concept of art. It determines the altitude of your artistic attainments as it is closely related to your interpretation of every piece of musical work. I could not agree more with that! He also taught me how to declutter my mind, so often bombarded with the rise of information technology and other daily pressures we are facing from all sides. In the music world, I learn how to think independently and activate my life during my mental conversation with musicians. Whenever I think of those melodious movements, I will gain a sense of fulfillment, because I know they will always be with me both in the present and in the future.
Although I am currently doing my master study abroad, I am still enjoying every chance of stage performance. So far, I have joined in 4 Chinese New Year Galas held in Lille and Paris as either the host or the solo singer since 2019. In receiving the audience’s applause and approval, I feel very honored to show not only our great admiration for Western opera but also the unique charm of Chinese classical music. I want to keep this mission firmly in my mind, never forget why I started and continuously learn from music.
No matter how far you are, those music notes will always remain close to your soul. Life is not smooth at all, with all kinds of obstacles and injustices that may befall you. But when you fall in love with music, you will feel totally relaxed. Music has charms to soothe a savage beast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak. As Tchaikovsky put it, music is the greatest gift to mankind. I enjoy music. I understand music. I love music."