Described as “absolutely beautiful” and “utterly satisfying” (Fanfare), the works of Chinese-born American composer ZHOU Tian ( JOH TEE-en) have been commissioned and/or performed by major orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the Cincinnati Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, Houston Symphony, RTÉ National Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and by leading soloists and ensembles such as pianist Yuja Wang, violist Roberto Díaz, guitarist Jason Vieaux, violinist Caroline Goulding, flutist Jeffrey Khaner, the Eroica Trio, the Arditti and Dover string quartets, the Empire Brass, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. His newest work, Concerto for Orchestra, (“Stunning,” “tonal and engaging” —the Cincinnati Enquirer), commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony, premiered in the orchestra’s 2015-16 season finale, conducted by music director Louis Langrée. The work was released in the orchestra’s latest recording “Concertos for Orchestra.”

Critically acclaimed for his lush and distinctive musical voice, Mr. Zhou’s recent premieres include Violin Concerto “The Infinite Dance,” (“Magical, this is new music I’d love to hear again and again.” —Palm Beach Arts Paper), commissioned by the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, conducted by Stewart Robertson, with Caroline Goulding as the soloist; Trace, (“Lush, neo-impressionistic” —Cincinnati Enquirer), commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony, conducted by Mei-Ann Chen; First Sight, commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Sarah Hicks; A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, (“Exquisite, thoroughly successful”—the Examiner), commissioned by the Green Bay Symphony, conducted by Christoph Campestrini; Viaje, commissioned by Dolce Suono Ensemble for flutist Mimi Stillman and the Dover Quartet; and Red Trees, Wrinkled Cliffs, commissioned by Curtis Institute for Curtis On Tour in more than 20 major cities around the world.

Other noted orchestral performances have come from the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Daniel Meyer, the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, Houston Symphony and Christoph Köenig, Indianapolis Symphony and Christoph Eberle, Hong Kong Philharmonic and Rossen Milanov, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and Jiamin Song, Reno Philharmonic and Laura Jackson, Spokane Symphony and Eckart Preu, Winston-Salem Symphony and Matthew Troy, Hawaii Symphony and Sarah Hicks, Asheville Symphony and Daniel Meyer, and the American Composers Orchestra conducted by Paul Lustig Dunkel.

Zhou’s large-scale symphonic suite for soloists, orchestra, and chorus, The Grand Canal, was performed during a nationally televised celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The work was also selected as a theme at 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and received its US premiere by the Princeton Symphony, conducted by Rossen Milanov.

Zhou's music has been heard repeatedly at prestigious venues around the world such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Ecoles d'Art Américaines de Fontainebleau (France), Usedomer Musikfestival (Germany), Mozarteum Brasileiro (Brazil), and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. He has served as composer-in-residence with the Green Bay Symphony and Chicago's Music In the Loft Concert Series. His works have been broadcast on NPR, PBS, and recorded on Cedille, Innova, Archimusic, and Pacific records.

Among Zhou’s many awards and honors are first prize in the Washington International Competition for Composers, first prize in the ASCAP/Lotte Lehmann Art Song Competition, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Glick Award, the Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute, Symphony in C Composers Award, American Composers Orchestra Underwood Readings, Presser Music Award, three ASCAP Morton Gould Composers Awards, and an Excellence Award of Large Symphonic Work in the 16th Musical Composition Award given (every five years) by the Ministry of Culture of China. In 2013, the recording of his String Quartet No. 2 “the Great Wall” was nominated for the Best Classical Album and won Best Instrumental Performance at the “Taiwan Grammy” – the 24th Taiwan Golden Melody Awards. His recording of “The Grand Canal” was included in the 100 Important Audio and Video Publications of 2009 by General Administration of Press and Publication of China, and exhibited at MIDEM, the world’s leading international event for the music industry in Cannes. Many of his commissions had support from the National Endowment for the Arts. He held composition fellowships from the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, Henri Mancini Institute, and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau.

Born in 1981 in Hangzhou, China, Zhou holds music degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music (B.M.), the Juilliard School (M.M.) and University of Southern California (D.M.A.). He studied composition with Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Rouse, Stephen Hartke, Richard Danielpour, and Donald Crockett. He taught at Colgate University since 2011, and joined Michigan State University College of Music as associate professor of composition in 2016. Visit for more.

Note: Zhou Tian is pronounced: JOH TEE-en. Following a traditional spelling of Chinese-American artists, the composer’s family name is Zhou and his given name is Tian. When only the composer’s last name is listed in the program, it should be listed as “Zhou.” The full name should be listed as “Zhou Tian.” He goes by Zhou (Joh), or formally, Mr./Dr. Zhou.

PDF (includes short bio)


© Zhou Tian / Zhou Tian Music
All rights reserved

click to enlarge

Now Playing

Excerpt from "Prism" performed by Yuja Wang

©Zhou Tian (ASCAP), The Curtis Inst. of Music