Former Nova Violist, Xi Zhang, is making her professional debut with the St. Louis Symphony.
Zhang, a graduate from New England Conservatory, began her career with Symphony Nova in 2011 and performed as second viola in the orchestra until 2014. She very much enjoyed the experience of working with different conductors and playing at various events, while getting the opportunity to learn more repertoire.
“Playing more repertoire outside of school helped me to get more performing experience,” said Zhang. “Learning all the repertoire was really helpful because, once you really know something, your muscle memory can pick it right back up.”
According to Zhang, playing with Symphony Nova helped her to prepare for life in a professional orchestra. She particularly remembers being inspired by the guests who were often invited to play alongside the Nova musicians.
“They invited musicians from the Portland Symphony, and being able to watch how well-prepared the musicians were, as well as how hard they worked during rehearsal, really inspired me in my career,” she said.
In her new career, Zhang is adapting to the short performance cycles and the speed at which she is learning to play new repertoire. The program changes every week, and sometimes, there is more than one program change in the span of a week.
While this can be overwhelming at times, Zhang feels confident in her training and gladly accepts the challenge.
“I think this [Symphony Nova] is a really great training program that helps people, like me, who want to pursue a career in music. Symphony Nova is a bridge,” said Zhang. “I definitely matured as a musician.”