Noted for his compelling musicianship, instrumental fluency, and inspiring teaching, Jay Zhong is regarded by many professional musicians as a virtuoso violinist. His musical gift was evidenced at age 14, when legendary violinist Nathan Milstein heard his playing and exclaimed: “Why spend millions of dollars on a Stradivarius when one can make an ordinary violin sound so good?” Subsequently, Milstein introduced Zhong to concert manager Harold Shaw, who in term staged Zhong’s debut recital in New York’s covet Carnegie Hall main stage and started Zhong’s professional career.
A seasoned violinist, Jay Zhong has performed as a soloist on four continents of the globe and has earned international critical accolades for his recitals in capital cities of the world. Possessing a combination of formidable instrumental command and insightful musicality, Zhong has captivated audiences and musicians alike with his violin playing. The Washington Post described “Zhong’s Virtuosity” as “nimble and unassuming… restrained but incisive, and without the bombast that some performers find so irresistible.” Brussels’ Le Soir hailed him as “chinois solar”; California’s Pacifica Tribune called his rendition of Brahms’ sonatas “a golden exploration”, while his performance of Beethoven won such praise from El Colombiano of Medellin: “Jay Zhong, super-violinist, with interpretation worthy of an analogy…” Recently, Zhong has joined a short list of violinists who had recorded Eugene Ysaye’s complete Sonatas for Solo Violin, Opus 27, a set of composition that has attracted as many performers as it has intimidated, due to its reaching technical and interpretive demands on the performer.
An avid chamber musician, Mr. Zhong has been on the roster of the International Chamber Players, Inc. and Bogota International Music Festival Chamber Ensembles. He has performed chamber music with noted musicians, including pianists Yuan Sheng, Audrey Axinn, Robert Koenig, violist Hong Mei Xiao and Hui Liu, and violinists Xiang Gao and Keng Yuen Tseng. Serving as first violinist of the Julstrom String Quartet, he has toured with that ensemble extensively and recorded rarely heard chamber works by female composer Rebecca Clarke Centaur label (2007).
Mr. Zhong has held violin professorship at the California State University Los Angeles, Western Illinois University, Bogota International School of Music, and the Young Musicians at Purchase program of the State University of New York. He has taught master-classes at Southern Methodist University, University of Delaware, University of Kansas, the Bogota International Music Festival, Western Illinois University, California State University, Los Angeles, and has given a master-clinic on modern violin pedagogy to the faculty of China’s elite Beijing Central Music Conservatory. He is also the author of a violin-training textbook, “A Violinist’s Handbook, A Simpler Manual to Learn the Instrument,” published by iUniverse Publications Inc., available worldwide by online booksellers.
Born in Beijing, China, Jay Zhong began studying violin at age 4 with his parents, who were the Associate Concertmaster in Beijing Symphony and the Concertmaster of Central Ballet Orchestra respectively. He won a national audition at age 11 with the fiendish Paganini Violin Concerto No.1 and entered the violin studio of Ke Qiang Sui in the rigorous Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. At age 12, following a successful debut at Beijing Concert Hall, he was chosen by the government to compete in 1986's Beijing International Violin Competition. Disarrayed by China’s political climate, Jay Zhong fled the country to pursue studies in the United States. In New York City he was a pupil of the late Russian pedagogue, Raphael Bronstein, an Auer violin-school exponent. Jay Zhong later completed his training with the celebrated violin master Elmar Oliveira. Mr. Zhong holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a Master of Fine Arts degree from State University of New York at Purchase. By invitation, Mr. Zhong has performed on some of the most valuable violins in the world, including the 1717 “Antonius” Stradivarius from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Arts, and the "ex-Oliveira" 1692 Stradivarius. A proud enthusiast of modern Chinese violins, Jay Zhong performs on a violin made in 2003 by Chinese luthier Qing Yang Liu, which he fondly named “the Bear”. Jay Zhong became a U.S. citizen in 2000.