Lauren Zhang receives this year's BBC Young Musician award, the top prize in a competition among the most promising young classical instrumentalists based in the UK. (Photo provided to China Daily)
A 16-year-old pianist described as a musical phenomenon has won this year's BBC Young Musician award, the top prize in a competition among the most promising young classical instrumentalists based in the United Kingdom.
Birmingham Junior Conservatoire student Lauren Zhang, who was born in the United States and whose parents are from China, finished ahead of two Britons – 18-year-old cellist Maxim Calver and 18-year-old saxophonist Robert Burton – in the final round, which was broadcast on British television from the Birmingham Symphony Hall on Sunday.
"I'm astonished, I'm pleasantly surprised and, wow, I can't believe it," Zhang said following her win. "I'd like to thank my family, as well as my friends and teachers for supporting me along the way."
The BBC Young Musician contest has run every two years since 1978. Past winners have gone on to join the London Philharmonic Orchestra and perform at the BBC Proms, one of the world's most prestigious classical music festivals.
Zhang said the last few months were stressful because she had to study for high school exams while progressing through the competition.
She entered the contest earlier this year, along with more than 450 musicians aged 18 and under. On Friday, she advanced through a semifinal round made up of the winners of the keyboard, percussion, brass, woodwind, and strings categories.
Sunday's final was voted on by a jury of six British classical musicians, chaired by composer Kerry Andrew.