11-year-old shows keyboard know-how

Photo courtesy Michael Landy Arthur Zang displays his first place honors certificate from piano competition
Photo courtesy Michael Landy
Arthur Zang displays his first place honors certificate from piano competition


Arthur Zang of Harrison is only a sixth-grader but already the 11-year-old has shown a surprising mastery of the keyboard.

The most recent demonstration of his musical skills came Jan. 31 when he achieved first place honors in the Crescendo International Piano Competition at Weill Recital Hall in New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Its website describes Crescendo as a nonprofit “staffed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers: concert musicians, college professors and teachers with doctorates and master’s degrees from the USA and Europe [whose] mission is to discover and develop young musical talent … [and to] give young musicians the opportunity to display their talents on the most prestigious concert stages in the world ….”

More than 500 young people from the tri-state area competed for the opportunity to perform in in this New York concert venue, Arthur told The Observer in a phone interview last week.

For his performance piece, he played the first movement of Haydn’s “Sonata in C Major.”

“My [piano] teacher (Xiao Yin Zhu) picked it,” Arthur said.

It took him “a couple of months” to learn and memorize the composition which takes between four and five minutes to play.

Asked how this piece stacked up against all the others he’s labored over since he began taking classical piano lessons four years ago, Arthur said it “was the hardest” to master.

Arthur has become accustomed to playing in front of groups of strangers: he has previously performed in three Garden State competitions sponsored by the N.J. Music Teachers Association.

But last month’s concert at Carnegie Hall was the “biggest” of all. He admitted to being “nervous,” but, judging from the results, not enough to effect his keyboard stylings.

His next scheduled public performance will be this spring with another NJMTA-sponsored concert at Seton Hall University.

Arthur keeps his fingers in playing shape by practicing, typically, at least an hour every day at home.

He also plays trumpet for the Washington Middle School band but he confessed to a hankering for a shot at learning to play drums and electric guitar.

As for his easy listening preferences – when he’s not busy practicing scales and exercises on the keyboard – Arthur said he’s partial to “epic” – as in “motivational” – music along with “pop songs.”

And when he’s not involved with music, Arthur is attuned to academia and athletics: He’s an all-As student and he plays basketball with the Harrison Recreation team.

Arthur credits his parents, Cheng Zang and Jie Li, for their active support of all his endeavors.

When asked if he has considered a career as a professional musician, however, Arthur – whose favorite subject in school is math – seemed disinclined to go in that direction.

“I want to be a CEO,” he said, because then, “you don’t have anyone to boss you around.”

Small wonder he excels in competitions.

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