Chinese violin maestro Zhang Yijia. (Photo provided to China Daily)
In the mind of the budding Chinese violin maestro Zhang Yijia, music is food for the soul and a story without words.
"I cannot imagine a world without music, it would probably be very bland. Music has accompanied my life for over 20 years and I've never doubted my decision to become a professional violinist," he says.
Born in Hefei in 1989, Zhang already has extensive achievements in the music field. Having made his first international performance in San Francisco at the age of 17 with the Cazadero Festival Orchestra, he has subsequently given recitals in China, the US, Czech Republic, Sweden and the UK.
A recent graduate of London's Royal Academy of Music, Zhang champions a unique style of violin playing that uses classical violin performance methods to play music that is familiar to a modern young audience, and incorporates global musical influences.
"I love classical music, and it's always a joy to play pieces from the great classical composers like Mozart and Beethoven. But I feel that in the 21st century we need to innovate and play pieces closer to a modern audience, and I want to do this in order to give traditional classical music new life," Zhang says.
His style is perhaps aptly reflected by his debut album, "Tango Embrace", to be launched in October. Featuring nine classical tango pieces from the renowned Argentinean tango composer Astor Piazzolla, Zhang has given each piece his own interpretation.
His violin performance is accompanied by five other artists who are featured in different pieces in the album, featuring the instruments of bass guitar, piano, accordion and two musicians on percussion.
"I have learnt a lot from my friends when we play together. They've given me many inspirations especially on improvisation, so that I will not limit myself in my musical expressions," Zhang says.
"We are most happy when we inspire each other in music, which is our common language." The five other friends featured in his album are from Australia, China, Italy, Japan, and Russia, each bringing to the group their own take on music, reflected by their own history and culture.
Some notable names in the group include Wang Beibei, a percussionist who has cooperated with the famous Chinese composer Tan Dun in his Water Concerto for Water Percussion and Orchestra, and Carl Smith, one of the original cast members of the musical Stomp, which uniquely combines dance movements and percussion.
Zhang started learning the violin at the age of five, and loved the sound of the instrument immediately. As a young child, he treated the violin as a special toy, carrying it around with him and experimenting with it different notes.