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Honorary Fellow

ZHOU Xiao-yan

1993 Honorary Fellow


Madame Zhou started her singing career at a time when the rest of the world was surprised that a Chinese artist could reach an international standard in the western performing arts.  She studied singing for nine years in Paris, where she became a member of the National Opera House.  The Russian composer, Alexander Tcherepin was so impressed by her artistry that he composed a cantata especially for her, which she performed in Paris, London, and in Czechoslovakia and Poland.  Having established her international career, Madame Zhou returned to China in 1947.  She performed all over China, and took charge of the voice department at Shanghai Conservatory.  Combining a career of singing and teaching, she nurtured some of China’s finest young singers: many of her pupils went on to win major prizes at international competitions.  From 1976 she concentrated her energies almost entirely on teaching, and in 1978 she was appointed Vice-Director of the Shanghai Conservator.  10 years later she founded a centre for opera at the Conservatory, that was named after her.  The Zhou Xiao-yan Opera Centre trains young singers in the traditions of western opera, and mounts products of opera, ranging from Rigoletto to contemporary works by Chinese composers, like the Savage Land by Jin Xiang.  Her productions have been seen in the San Francisco Opera Centre, with which, through her efforts, the Shanghai Conservatory has developed a close relationship.  Western opera has only been performed in China since the 1930s, and it has been Madame Zhou’s ambition for it to reach as wide a public as possible.  For her outstanding work for the arts, she was appointed Vice-Chairman of the China’s Musicians Association, and in 1989 the government of China awarded her the honour of Professor with an all-China title.  Now she is helping to develop a close relationship between the Shanghai Conservatory and the Hong Kong Academy.  I present Madame Zhou for Fellowship of the Academy for Performing Arts.