Middle school pupil Zhang wins piano competition

Student achiever

Education

December 24, 2003

The student: Eric Zhang, 11

School: Burleigh Manor Middle

Special achievement: He won first place among middle-schoolers in the Music Teachers Association's International Piano Contest. The competition was held at the Kennedy Center in May. "I played `Spanish Rhapsody' by Franz Liszt. That's my ultimate piece. It's like 24 pages. That's the hardest piece I've ever played so far."

What the competition was like: "I liked seeing ... how students compare with other students. They had different kinds of teachers, and theirs weren't as strict as my Russian teacher." He studies with Bella Osper of the European Academy of Music and Art in Silver Spring. The Kennedy Center had "a really, really big stage. Lots of lights. There was a really big audience. It was really grand."

When did he begin playing piano? At age 5. "I like seeing the music and I like performing it, and I use body motion that expresses the emotion." His favorite composers are Chopin, Liszt and Thalberg. He enters at least three competitions a year and usually performs a concert monthly. Last month, he played at the Ukrainian Embassy. This month, he was scheduled to perform at the Embassy of Switzerland.

Other activities: "I like drawing. I also like reading books. Right now I'm reading Harry Potter, the fifth." He was active in his drama program at Centennial Lane Elementary School.

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