17-year-old percussionist Fang Zhang wins BBC’s Young Musician 2020

17-year-old percussionist Fang Zhang wins BBC’s Young Musician 2020

Percussionist Fang Zhang reportedly won the BBC Young Musician 2020 on 2nd May 2021. Zhang triumphed at the grand final of the biennial competition, which was delayed by a year due to the pandemic, as per reports.

The competition was filmed sans audience at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on 25th April and was later broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four.

The three finalists participating in the competition played a concerto with the BBC Philharmonic under Olivier Award-winning conductor Mark Wigglesworth. Zhang competed against finalists Annemarie Federle, an 18-year-old French horn player, and Ewan Millar, a 19-year-old oboist.

Zhang reportedly follows in the path of 19-year-old pianist Lauren Zhang, who was crowned BBC Young Musician 2018. Other predecessors include violinist Nicola Benedetti, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and pianist Martin James Bartlett.

Zhang, born in the Henan province of China, has recently enrolled at the Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester, in 2018. He is part of the China Youth Percussion Orchestra and has been performing globally since age 11.

He is only the second percussionist to win the competition after Adrian Spillett’s 1998 win. The competition began in 1978, however, percussion was added as a category much later in 1994, as per reports.

Zhang apparently impressed the panel of judges with his performance of Prism Rhapsody by Keiko Abe, Japanese composer and marimba innovator. Zhang opted to play a single instrument – the marimba – but seemingly gave a performance that ‘deeply moved’ the jury panel and presenters.

Panel member Angela Dixon, chief executive officer, Saffron Hall, was quoted saying that Fang elicited a “kaleidoscope of colors and expression” through his performance, which was a privilege to hear live.

The panel reportedly included Dixon; composer Errollyn Wallen; BBC Young Musician 2006 winner Mark Simpson, a composer and clarinetist; Shiva Feshareki, an experimental composer and turntable artist; and Ryan Bancroft, BBC National Orchestra of Wales principal conductor.