Born in Beijing, China, Jessica Zhou joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as its harpist in fall 2009, and joined the New England Conservatory faculty with the spring 2011 semester.
Zhou was winner of the 2001 Pro Musicis International Award, leading to her critically acclaimed New York debut in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. In 2001, Zhou became the first and only Chinese harpist ever to win top prizes in three of the most prestigious harp competitions in the world, including the Prix du Jury at the 3rd Concours International de Harpe Lily Laskine in Deauville, France; Fourth Prize in the USA International Harp Competition; and Second Prize at the 14th International Harp Contest in Israel. She is a two-time winner of the Anne Adams Award National Harp Competition sponsored by the American Harp Society, which presented her in recitals in Boston, Hartford, New York City, San Diego, Mexico, and Taipei, Taiwan, where she also served as Chairman of the Jury in the First Taiwan National Harp Competition.
As soloist with orchestra, Zhou has performed with the Israel Philharmonic, the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra in San Diego, the New York City Opera Orchestra, and the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, where she gave the world premiere of Haim Permont’s Double Harp Concerto during the 2002 World Harp Congress.
As a chamber musician, she has performed with the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Boston Chamber Music Society, Caramoor Music Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival, North Country Chamber Players, and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan, where she premiered Christopher Rouse’s Compline for harp, clarinet, flute, and string quartet.
Before joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Zhou has been principal harpist of the New York City Opera beginning in 2004. Other orchestral appearances include the New York Philharmonic, Suisse Romande Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and she toured Japan with the London Symphony Orchestra.
B.M. and M.M., The Juilliard School; graduate, Interlochen Arts Academy. Studies with Joan Holland, Nancy Allen.
Photo by Marco Borggreve/courtesy BSO