What I Do at SSU
I teach private instruction in Violin.
Noted for his compelling musicianship, instrumental mastery, and inspiring teaching, Jay Zhong is regarded by many musicians as a virtuoso violinist and esteemed teacher. Jay’s musical gift was evidenced at age 14, when legendary violinist Nathan Milstein heard his playing and exclaimed: “Why spend millions of dollars on a Stradivarius when one can make an ordinary violin sound so good?” Two years later, through the arrangement made by Milstein’s manager Harold Shaw, Jay began his career as a professional violinist by performing a solo recital on the main stage of New York’s Carnegie Hall.
A seasoned violinist now, Jay Zhong has performed on four continents of the globe and earned international critical accolades for his solo recitals in capital cities of the world. Possessing a combination of formidable instrumental command and insightful musicality, Jay Zhong has captivated audiences and musicians alike with his violin playing. The Washington Post described “Zhong’s Virtuosity” as “nimble and unassuming… restrained but incisive, and without the bombast that some performers find so irresistible.” Brussels’ Le Soir hailed him as “chinois solar”; California’s Pacifica Tribune called his rendition of Brahms’ sonatas “a golden exploration”, while his performance of Beethoven won such praise from El Colombiano of Medellin: “Jay Zhong, super-violinist, with interpretation worthy of an analogy…” Recently, Jay has joined a short list of violinists who had recorded Eugene Ysaÿe’s complete Sonatas for Solo Violin, Opus 27, one of the most demanding works in the violin repertoire.
Jay’s musical sensitivity has made him a desirable partner for fellow musicians. He has been on the roster of the International Chamber Players, Inc. and Bogota International Music Festival Chamber Ensembles, and collaborated with reputable musicians from his generation, including pianists Yuan Sheng, Audrey Axinn, Robert Koenig, violist Hong Mei Xiao and Hui Liu, and violinists Xiang Gao and Keng Yuen Tseng. While serving as first violinist of the Julstrom String Quartet, he has toured with that ensemble extensively and recorded rarely heard chamber works by Rebecca Clarke (Centaur label 2007).
An experienced teacher, Jay Zhong has violin professorship at the California State University Los Angeles, Western Illinois University, Bogota International School of Music, and the Young Musicians at Purchase program of the State University of New York. He has taught master-classes at Southern Methodist University, University of Delaware, University of Kansas, the Bogota International Music Festival, Western Illinois University, California State University, Los Angeles. In the late 1980s, Mr. Zhong was one of the first to introduce the teachings of Raphael Bronstein to the violin faculty of China’s elite Beijing Central Music Conservatory through master-clinics. Continuing his mentor’s work, Jay Zhong has authored his own violin method book, “A Violinist’s Handbook, A Simpler Manual to Learn the Instrument,” published by iUniverse Publications Inc., available worldwide via online booksellers.
Born in Beijing, China, Jay Zhong began studying violin at age 4. He won a national audition at age 11 with the fiendish Paganini Violin Concerto No.1 to enter the violin studio of Ke Qiang Sui in the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. At age 12, he was chosen by the Chinese government to compete in 1986's Beijing International Violin Competition. However, disarrayed by political climate, he fled the country alone to pursue studies in the United States. In New York City he was a pupil of Raphael Bronstein, pedagogical descendant of Leopold Auer, who offered him shelter along with lessons. After the passing of Bronstein, Jay Zhong was tutored by Bronstein’s daughter Arianna Bronne until his completion of college. He then went on artistic training with renowned violinist Elmar Oliveira. Other great musicians from whom Jay has received guidance include violinist Josef Gingold, Daniel Phillips, Nathan Milstein, music scholar Steven Luben, Anthony Newman, pianist Constance Keene, among others. Jay Zhong holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a Master of Fine Arts degree from State University of New York at Purchase.
By invitation, Mr. Zhong has performed on some of the most valuable violins in the world, including the 1717 “Antonius” Stradivarius from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Arts and the 1692 "Oliveira" Stradivarius. In recent years, he performs exclusively on a modern Chinese violin modeled after 1722 Stradivarius and a Coda's "Luma" bow. Jay Zhong currently serves as Associate Concertmaster at the Santa Rosa Symphony, Concertmaster of Mendocino Music Festival Orchestra, and teaches Applied Violin at Sonoma State University Department of Music.