B i o g r a p h y
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Zhang Shengliang (aka Niu Niu)
Niu Niu was born Zhang Shengliang in 1997 into a musical family in Xiamen. After showing talent at age 3, Niu Niu initially studied piano with his father, later making his recital debut at age 6. At age 8, he became the youngest student ever enrolled in the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. By age 11, he became the youngest pianist to have a solo recital at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
Since age 10, Niu Niu has studied with Hung-Kuan Chen, initially at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and later the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He was admitted by New York’s Juilliard School in 2014 with full scholarship and has graduated in 2018.
The youngest pianist ever signed to a major classical label, his debut album, Niu Niu Plays Mozart (2008) was followed by Niu Niu Plays Chopin—The Complete Études (2010), Niu Niu Liszt Transcriptions (2012), and Niu Niu Portrait (2016). After signing with Universal Music Hong Kong in December 2017, he had his first album by Decca Classics (recorded in Berlin)—Liszt · Chopin · Schubert · Mendelssohn—released in 2018.
Niu Niu opened the 2014/15 season performing the Dvořák Piano Concerto with Jiří Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. In March 2014, he performed with Yutaka Sado and his Super Kids Orchestra on a five-city tour of Japan’s major concert halls, later returning that summer for a critically acclaimed recital tour. During August 2016, Niu Niu completed a tour of 16 Chinese cities. He has already performed more than a hundred concerts in various parts of the world. In 2017, Niu Niu was invited to perform for the presidents of China, Russia, India, Brazil, and South Africa during the BRICS summit evening gala.
Other career highlights include the 2007 Pearl Awards at London’s Royal Festival Hall, performing Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.1 conducted by his mentor Leslie Howard in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. In the same year, his performance in the CCTV Ministry of Culture Spring Festival Gala was televised nationwide. In October 2010 in Berlin, Niu Niu was named the youngest laureate of the 2010 PRIX Montblanc award, which is given annually to emerging classical music instrumentalists. In 2012, as the first laureate of the Artemisia Foundation, he made his debuts in Boston’s Jordan Hall and Yale University’s Sprague Hall.
Niu Niu dubbed the piano performance of the manga character Wei Pang, in NHK’s animated version of Piano no Mori (“Forest of Piano”) in 2018–19. The animation was broadcasted by Netflix worldwide and has helped develop the appreciation for classical music and drawn a bigger young audience to Niu Niu’s piano music. As part of the campaign in support of his upcoming new album in 2021, Niu Niu is also currently planning a world concert tour in 2021/2022 including China, Japan, and Europe.