Tairan Randy Zhen, Violist and Faculty member at the Harbin Conservatory, enjoys a diverse career as both an educator and performer. Zhen was hired in 2017 as a full time viola major teacher at the Harbin Conservatory in China. At the same time, Zhen was also hired as the viola principal of the Harbin Conservatory Chinese-Russian Orchestra. In the year of 2019, Zhen won the First Class Award of the Viola Open Class at the Hong Kong International String Competition. In the fall of 2020, Zhen was hired as public judge of the 2021 Hong Kong International String Competition.
Zhen was born into a family of musicians, first beginning his musical studies on the piano at the age of five. At the urging of his father, a luthier, he began to study the violin at age 7, studying first with his father. In 2005, inspired by a recital by Dr. Wang Shaowu, Tairan switched from violin to viola due to its superior tone quality. In that same year, Tairan was accepted to the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music’s Middle School, where he began his viola studies under Dr. Wang, renowned teacher in China and faculty member of the Beijing Central Conservatory of music. Under Dr. Wang's tutelage, Zhen won the 2nd prize in the 3rd Viola Competition of the Chinese Central Conservatory of Music in 2006, as well as the 3rd prize in the Chinese National Viola Competition in 2007. Zhen was fortunate to meet many notable musicians during his years in Beijing, which led to invitations to participate in music festivals such as the Great Wall International Music Academy, and to work with outstanding musicians such as Matthias Buchholz, Daniel Avshalomov, Tabea Zimmermann.
In addition to his passion for solo playing, Zhen also very much enjoys playing chamber music, and has participated in master classes with members of the American String Quartet, the Great Wall String Quartet and the Maia Quartet. In 2008, Zhen was chosen by competitive audition to be the violist of the newly established Fengyun quartet at the Middle School attached to the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. As a member of this quartet, he performed in such prestigious venues as the Performing Arts School of Macau, the Tianjin Conservatory, the Beijing Central Conservatory, and the Macau Theatre. He also participated in chamber music master classes with such notable musicians as Hanxiang Gong, Wolfgang Yang and Michael Ma. In 2009-10, the Fengyun Quartet performed several concerts of Beethoven and Haydn string quartets in Beijing. In August 2009, the Fengyun Quartet won the 2nd prize of the chamber music competition in the Great wall International Music Academy, and in November 2009, the Quartet won 2nd prize of the Chinese National Chamber Music Competition. As a result of its many successes, the Fengyun quartet was invited by the Chinese government to perform for Pepe Cordano, the president of Uruguay at the Diaoyutai State Guest House, which is where the Chinese government meets with presidents from other countries around the world.
In the fall of 2010, Zhen began his studies at the Eastman School of Music for a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance, studying under Professor Carol Rodland. In the summer of 2012, Zhen had the distinct honor to be selected as the principal violist of the prestigious Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO), with whom he toured major Asian cities such as Tokyo, Sendai, Meabashi, Arahana, Beijing, Tianjin, Xi'an, Shanghai, Taipei, and Hongkong. In the fall of 2012, Zhen won the Eastman School of Music Bartok Viola Concerto Competition and was chosen to perform with Eastman School Symphony Orchestra. In the fall of 2014, Zhen won the full scholarship with a stipend award for the Master of Music Program at Rice University, studying with Professor James Dunham, the former violist of Cleveland String Quartet. From 2014 to 2016, Zhen also worked at Ljubljana International Orchestra in Slovenia, with an honor no one else was given outside of Europe.
Besides viola performance, Zhen also arranges pieces and songs for viola quartets, such as Japanese folk music Furusato for viola quartet, Stephan Foster Old Folks at Home, and Yellow River’s Horn, which is a Chinese folk song collected from boatman singing. Zhen’s Viola Quartet, Furusato, was performed in the Friendship City’s Concert of Harbin and Hokkaido. In the teaching field, Zhen had many students accepted into music schools in the United States and Europe, as well as prize winners at competitions such as National Youth String and Woodwinds and Brass Competition hosted by Central Conservatory of China.