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Weicheng Zhao

Weicheng ZhaoWeicheng Zhao began playing pipe organ in 2009. He has performed in the United States, Canada, France, and Asia. He was one of the featured recitalists at the American Guild of Organists West Region Convention, San Diego, California in 2015. At the invitation of Jean Guillou, Mr. Zhao played a solo recital in Paris at the Saint-Eustache Festival d'orgue 2011. In 2012 he won First Prize and the Audience Prize in the Sixth Miami International Organ Competition as well as First Prize in the organ division of the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition. He received the Second Prize and the Audience Prize in the Ruth and Clarence Mader National Organ-Playing Competition in 2010 and 2013. He recently won both Third Prize and the Audience Prize at the American Guild of Organists National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance.

Born in Tianjin, China, Mr. Zhao studied the Electone Organ (which features orchestral and newly developed electronic sounds) from 1993 to 2008 under Jiyong Gao, Professor of Keyboard at Tianjin Conservatory of Music. From 1995 to 1998, he studied composition with Yuankai Bao, Professor of Composition at the Tianjin Conservatory. Weicheng Zhao has transcribed over 40 pieces for the Electone Organ including solos, concertos and chamber music. His transcriptions of pop music for piano in 15 volumes were published by the Publishing House of the Central Conservatory of Music in October 2006.

Among numerous scholarships and awards, he received the prestigious People's Government Scholarship. Out of 20 million college, university, and conservatory students, Mr. Zhao was one of 30 students chosen to receive the Nomination Prize for Student of the Year 2007. That same year, he was the First Prize winner at the Yamaha National Electronic Organ Competition held in Shanghai, which qualified him to compete in the 43rd Yamaha International Electronic Organ Competition (open age group) in Tokyo, Japan. Included in his performance were Jubilation, his own composition, and his transcription of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. He was the first Chinese to win this competition which is recognized as the most significant of its kind in the world. After receiving a Bachelor of Music Degree in 2008, he was appointed a full time faculty member of the Electone Organ at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music. (His winning performance can be viewed by clicking here.)

Mr. Zhao came to the United States in 2009 to pursue study of the pipe organ with Professor Cherry Rhodes at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music. Upon completing his Master of Music program in organ performance, he was awarded the distinction of being the Outstanding Graduate at the master’s level of the entire Thornton School of Music. He currently is enrolled in the Doctor of Musical Arts program at USC. He is Associate Organist-Choirmaster at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California.

Fang Gao

Fang GaoBorn in Tianjin China, Fang Gao started her violin studies at the age of four. Only one year later, as the youngest contestant she won the Excellence Prize of the First Philharmonic Cup Violin Competition in Tianjin. In 1995, she won the Fifth Prize in the juvenile division of the 3rd National Professor Cup Violin Competition. She enrolled in the Tianjin Conservatory of Music in 2004 to study with Professor Zili Liu. During that time, she was a member of the first violin section of the Tianjin TEDA Symphony Orchestra. Under Professor Jixu Chen, she received a Master of Music Degree in Violin Performance, 2012. Among numerous scholarships and awards, she received the prestigious National Encouragement Scholarship in 2007, the Special Education Scholarship in 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2011, and the Entitled Excellent Student Award in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

From 2009 to 2012, Ms. Gao was a faculty member at the Wenning Guan Studio for Strings and Musical Arts, Tianjin Conservatory of Music, where she taught individual instruction in violin, music appreciation classes, and classical aural skills. Her video of open courses has been published by People's Daily Online in 2012. Her students have won a number of competitions. Because of the achievement of her students in the 2011 Tianjin Violin Competition, she received the Outstanding Instructor Prize. From 2010 to 2012, her students were accepted to Tianjin Conservatory of Music. She also taught violin at the Sunshine School of the Arts, Tianjin from 2009 to 2012.

Ms. Gao came to the United States to be with her husband Weicheng Zhao in 2012. One year later, she enrolled in the Graduate Certificate program and studied with Susan Feldman in Baroque Violin Performance at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music, while holding a Colburn Foundation Scholarship. She also studied Baroque Violin with the internationally renowned professor Elizabeth Blumenstock and David Wilson, and studied Modern Violin with USC professor Suli Xue, a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and Lynn Blakeslee, Professor Emerita at the Eastman School of Music. In October, 2014 Ms. Gao entered the Concerto and Solo String Division Competitions sponsored by the California Association of Professional Music Teachers who gave her the highest rating of Unanimous Superior. She has been interviewed by TV stations “LA 18” and “Fairchild TV” from Canada in 2014. She graduated from USC in 2016.

Ms. Gao has performed with her husband in the United States and Canada, and has been featured as an ensemble member in the Berkeley and San Francisco Early Music Festivals. She is a member of the USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia, and continues to perform concerts on both the Baroque and Modern Violins.