UNT College of Music student wins big at international piano competition
DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Baolong Zhang, Graduate Artist Certificate student at the University of North Texas College of Music, has earned first prize in the 2017 Virginia Waring International Piano Concerto Competition, held March 26-April 2. He earned the prestigious honor – and a $10,000 prize – for his performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
“I feel happy and a little surprised to earn this honor,” Zhang said. “There were a lot of classical music fans in the audience which gave me more motivation and confidence. The prize money also will make my life a little easier and will let me focus more attention on my piano performing, which is my career.”
The competition, which is held every four years, was created to build community excitement and engagement with “the joy of classical piano.”
Zhang, who has been accepted into the UNT College of Music’s doctoral performance program with a teaching fellowship, earned his Master of Music degree from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. He chose UNT to further his education specifically so he could study under Regents Professor of Piano Pamela Mia Paul.
“He was studying in Hong Kong and worked any kind of job he could to save up money to come to UNT,” Paul said. “UNT was the only school he applied to in the U.S. I’m so proud of him, he’s worked so hard. For the final round of the concerto competition, he played in front of 1,750 people – almost a sold out crowd – and received a huge ovation.”
Zhang credits Paul for his successes not only in the competition, but in the world of classical piano.
“I couldn't have won this prize without my teacher Dr. Pamela Mia Paul,” Zhang said. “She has helped me since I came to the states. She not only teaches me how to interpret each piece and find a better way to express myself, but she also expands my view of the world and advises me on my future.”