At 10, Nashua boy is already a seasoned pianist
That was three years ago when Zou, a skilled Chinese musician now 10 years old, started to take his artistic gift a little more seriously.
He began taking piano lessons with the prestigious Dorothy Shi of Newton Center, Mass., who has worked with some of the best young pianists in the country.
“In the Chinese community, a lot of kids play the piano. We were told early on that Rubin had a gift and that we should push him because he is so talented,” said his mother, Yan Zhu.
But the young pianist admits it isn't always easy and said that sitting behind the piano for two hours a day can be a lot of work, which is why he began composing his own music when he was barely 9-years-old.
“Once I learned how to play the piano, all I wanted to do was compose, which seemed a lot easier for me,” said Zou.
Last December, he began composing “Suite For Piano Solo in Five Movements” and submitted it in the international 2012 Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition in Silverthorne, Colo. His composition took first-place in his age division.
In September, Zou will perform at Boston Symphony Hall as the first place winner (for the elementary division) in the Steinway Society Piano Competition held last May in Boston.
“I like to compete,” said Zou, acknowledging there are a lot of young and talented pianists in New England.
Still, Zou said he thrives on a challenge and is inspired by such composers as Frederic Chopin, a Polish composer from the 18th century.
When he isn't practicing the piano or composing, this incoming fifth-grader at Bicentennial Elementary School likes to listen to classical music, participate in Math Olympiad, compete in Destination Imagination, swim and run cross country with the Boys and Girls Club.
“I have to work hard,” said Zou, explaining his passion to succeed and to be the best at everything he does.
Despite his musical talent, Zou said he still gets a little nervous before his performances, and is unsure if he wants to pursue a career as a pianist or composer.
Because of his love for math and science, Zou said he may study computer science as he gets older.
But in the meantime, Zou's parents said they are still surprised by their son's ability behind the piano.
Zou's other achievements include first place in the Young Promise International Piano Competition in 2010 in Boston and first place in Darrell's Music Hall Competition in 2010. He also took home the only individual award among more than 2,000 participants at the 2011 New Hampshire Destination Imagination competition.
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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at email@example.com.