ANNIE ZHOU

INTERVIEW

Website | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify
Annie Zhou
Artist, Composer, Music Instructor


annie zhou chinese guzheng player musician
Annie Zhou
I think if we want to stand out, the first thing to do is just to show your uniqueness, and give the music your soul and personality.

Hi Annie, welcome to VQS, tell us how you got started with music and the Guzheng?

The way I found my true passion was seemingly a coincidence, but it was really destiny. Spending my childhood in mainland China, I have always been deeply touched by traditional Chinese culture. The traditional Chinese instrument Guzheng immediately grasped my interest when I first saw a master playing it on TV, I couldn’t take my eyes off it, this 21 strings instrument is just so beautiful with a heavenly sound! Since then I’ve dedicated myself to learning this instrument with firm resolution.


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What new projects are you working on now?

I am focusing on teaching Guzheng and working on my original compositions. I just taught Chinese musical notation and Writing for Guzheng (part of the East Asian Notation Styles and Cultures course) at Calarts, many students managed to write beautiful Guzheng pieces after learning from this course!

annie zhou guzheng chinese musician
Annie Zhou | Chinese Zhonghua Orchestra

There are several original pieces I am currently working on, one of them is the Guzheng piece “Lunar New Year Overture“, which will be released in Chinese New Year 2021. The melody is full of a joyful festival atmosphere, it also contains a special Guzheng bending technique in the bridge, which mimics the tone of people talking and adds a unique charm to the music.

This song combines the Chinese traditional instrument Guzheng with Western instruments Guitar, Bass, Drums, and so on. It interweaving and blending the folk charm with pop elements, highlighting the globalization and inclusiveness of the Chinese instrument Guzheng.

What 3 core values do you believe are necessary for success?

annie zhou chinese guzheng player

Belief.

You can do it if you believe you can, this is what I have always been telling myself. In my case, it is actually pretty hard to promote my instrument here since not many people had ever heard or seen it, but I have tried my best to make it happen because I believe in myself.

I think many people had either watched my live performances or heard of my recording through my dedicated efforts in the promotion of my instrument. I am so moved every time when the audiences approached me after my performances, they thanked me for my music and asked me to keep doing it, and let more and more people hear my instrument.

Think different, be different.

Many classically trained musicians tend to have a limited mindset in terms of performance and composition – which is not a bad thing at all. However, I think if we want to stand out, the first thing to do is just to show the uniqueness, and give the music your soul and personality. I have always been thinking how to make something different in my music while maintaining the essence of traditional Chinese culture and characteristic.

Diversification.

This is a very important term in my definition of success. Especially in today’s ever-changing society, we must learn to multitask and be “slash people”. I have many brilliant musician friends that not only making great music but also managed to succeed in other areas such as finance, social media, directing, and business, these things together made the person who they are.

The areas they are working in interacts with each other, building a more interesting complex of life and lead the person to be stronger and better. I defy myself as one of the “slash people”, I always curious about new technologies and research everything I’m interested in. I am an MBA, MFA, and gold medalist Swimmer, I am really enjoying being such a kind of person and living a colorful life.


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Who have been some of your favorite people/projects to work with?

annie zhou chinese guzheng player
Annie Zhou | SinoVision

My original composition “Spring Sprouts” won the Best Modern-Mode Prize and was chosen by the Second International Chinese Zither Music Festival as a designated competition piece in the “Ying Cai Music Competition”. I was also invited to attend the final competition performance as a judge for the participants in the Guzheng competition.

My performances at different Chinese New Year events were praised by many audiences as well as the City Mayor and Council of San Gabriel/ South Pasadena/ West Covina/ Chino/ Walnut, these encourage me to keep perform live for people as I can tell how much they love this instrument.

In 2017, I played at the NAMM show as a Guzheng solo artist, introducing this little known instrument to a wide audience of industry professionals, who were in awe of its heavenly sound. In the Chinese New Year Gala 2019, I was honored to collaborate with Maestro Carl St. Clair, Conductor Roger Kalia, and the Pacific Symphony at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Recently, I just performed at the 61st Annual LA County Holiday Celebration on my instrument Guzheng with Singer/Accordionist Jessica Fichot and the band. We arranged a Jazzy style song with Chinese elements and the show was aired on PBS SoCal and KCET on Christmas Eve 2020.


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What future opportunities would you like to be involved with?

Annie and the Amare Girls Band

As I always do, to make something different from the traditional music, and integrate my instrument with different genres of music and different forms of art. Particularly, I am exploring the possibilities of Guzheng with EDM and Guzheng/Chinese music in film compositions.

While making the EDM Guzheng tracks on my own, I hope there will be opportunities for me to collaborate with sound experts. Also, I feel there is a strong need for Chinese instruments in the film music industry as many composers had asked me for recordings, it is also a great way for people to get familiar with this traditional Chinese instrument.

I just started scoring for one of my director friends whose short film especially needs Asian elements. Hopefully, I will work more towards these directions in the near future.

Send Annie a message here.


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