Pianist, professor joins Varner stage with violinist to play Mozart sonatas

Assistant professor of music, Yin Zheng, continues to show students the attainability, attraction and beauty of classical music.

In the upcoming event, “A Journey with Mozart,” the professor and keyboard program coordinator invites students from all fields of study to join violinist Bin Huang and herself in their love for Mozart, free of charge.


‘A Journey with Mozart’

Comprised of 16 separate sonatas spanning three important time periods of Mozart’s adulthood — the Mannheim period and two phases of his time in Vienna — the event will never repeat the same piece.

Within a span of four days, each performance will showcase four unique sonatas.

Spread over two weekends, the series serves as a great starting point for those interested in classical music, but are unfamiliar with the genre.

To keep the performances educational, multiple award-wining musicians Zheng and Huang will explain the history, context and creative process of each composition before performing. This way, the audience will know what to listen for and will understand it when they hear it.

Although complex, Mozart is not what people usually imagine when they think of classical music, Zheng said.

“It’s not intimidating at all,” she said. “It’s easy to understand and easy to follow.”

Alexandera Zetye, long-time student of Zheng’s and a piano performance, engineering biology and mathematics major, also celebrates the welcoming element of Mozart’s music.

“One of the most amazing aspects of Mozart’s music is that it is easily accessible to the average person, but that it still retains the highest standards of form and harmony,” Zetye said. “Audiences at all levels of musical knowledge can appreciate his straightforward, yet beautiful melodies and his large palette of musical styles.”

The series will be presented in Varner Hall.


Far-reaching plans

OU is just the beginning for the event. The two plan to play at other educational institutions across the U.S.

They are scheduled to play a four-day weekend in North Carolina directly after they finish at OU.

After touring the U.S., they will explore other opportunities to perform the collection in various Asian countries.

The two women and celebrated musicians are not only traveling to perform, but in search of the perfect place to record their classical renditions.

“The requirements of acoustics is very complex,” Zheng said. “It has to work for both instruments.”

The two will most likely record in Europe or Asia, she said.

If all goes as planned, recording will either start later this year, or in the beginning of 2013. The commercial recording will be released sometime in 2013.


A life-long love

Zheng has been playing Mozart since she was 5-years-old and has noted him as her favorite composer ever since.

Zheng said it has always been a dream of hers to record Mozart’s work.

“I feel closest to Mozart because of the personality and the nature of the music,” she said. “It’s the drama — his music is so alive.”

Music has always been referred to as a universal language, but Mozart takes that theory to a whole new level, Zheng said.

“His work is like a musical language. The way he constructs (musical) phrases is very similar to the way we speak,” she said.

Zetye also noted the superior construction of Mozart’s work.

“Mozart’s compositions are perfectly constructed musical masterpieces,” she said


When it began

Zheng’s and Huang’s relationship goes back to their time at the Eastman School of Music.

Huang discovered Zheng while she was working on her doctorate.

“(Huang) heard me play and she loved the way I played Mozart,” Zheng said.

The rest is about to become history.

For more information, visit  www.oakland.edu/mtd



Presented in Varner Recital Hall and spread over four days, each performance will feature four distinct sonatas, totalling 16 compositions.

Saturday, March 10

8 p.m.

Sunday, March 11

3 p.m.

Saturday, March 17

8 p.m.

Sunday, March 18

8 p.m.

Professor background

Yin Zheng, assistant professor of music, piano and keyboard program coordinator, has played at coveted venues such as Carnegie Hall and Steinway Hall in New York, the Berlin Konzerthaus and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center.

She earned her doctorate in musical studies from the Eastman School of Music in New York.

She is the youngest female in China to receive a doctorate in piano performance and literature.

Since starting her work at OU five years ago, Zheng has had a tremendous effect on her students.

“Dr. Zheng is an amazing and inspirational pianist and teacher who has an incredible ability to make music — all types of music — come alive,” said Alexandra Zetye, who has been studying with Zheng for six semesters.

Zetye is very grateful to be working alongside Zheng.

“Since I began studying with (Zheng), my technical ability, musicality and my creativity have all skyrocketed.”

Zheng enjoys the stability and creative space that OU provides her, both as a professor and a performer.

“I want to lead a very balanced life in regards to performing and teaching,” she said. “OU has allowed me to shape my vision into creating a program.”

Zheng is very grateful to be working with Bin Huang, a medalist at world-class international competitions.

“(Huang) is the most accomplished Chinese violinist of her generation,” Zheng said.

Zheng encourages all students to discover classical music.

Yin Zheng can be contacted via email at [email protected]


—- Contact life editor Clare La Torre via email at [email protected]