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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

In Nancy Zhou, Former Mentor Mairs Sees A Wonderful Freshness Of Spirit


This weekend, San Antonio native Nancy Zhou returns to South Texas, and David Mairs, the music director of the Mid-Texas Symphony, couldn’t be happier about it.

“Am I blessed, or what?” he exclaims with a smile.

Zhou began studying violin at an early age under her father, Long Zhou. After graduating from Keystone School, she continued her studies at Harvard University and the New England Conservatory. Now 22, her concert appearances have taken her around the globe, but she’s not jaded. Mairs says that’s something he has enjoyed when working with younger performers.

“With young soloists, it’s rare to see anybody young who’s doing well come in with that attitude of, ‘Well, this is my 52nd Tchaikovsky violin concerto. I’ll do it, where’s the check?’ There’s a freshness [with young performers]. Everybody benefits from that!”

Mairs has enjoyed a long relationship with Zhou, dating back to when she was an eight-year-old violinist with the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio.

“She could play well, but she had the attention span sometimes… of an eight-year old!” he recalls.

“I remember we were in Kerrville and we were at our music camp, and she was looking out the window at the birds!” Mairs laughs. “What is she doing? [I thought], and then I realized, ‘oh yeah, she’s eight!’ But to see the talent… and see how beautifully it’s been molded by her dad, supported by her mom... Nancy seems to have maintained a really humble spirit, and a teachable spirit. Now, the old grandparents like me say [speaking in Old Man Voice] ‘Oh I remember when she was just a little eight-year-old!’”

Credit Nathan Cone
David Mairs, Music Director of the Mid-Texas Symphony

On her appearance this weekend with the Mid-Texas Symphony, Mairs says again, “I can’t wait to see her, and am so honored.”

Nancy Zhou will be performing Tchaikovksy’s Violin Concerto on Sunday, May 4 at 4 p.m. with the Mid-Texas Symphony. Also on the program is the music of Brahms and Haydn. Details and tickets are available here: http://www.mtsymphony.org/schedule/

Nathan has been with TPR since 1995, when he began working on classical music station KPAC 88.3 FM, as host of “Tuesday Night at the Opera.” He soon learned the ropes on KSTX 89.1 FM, and volunteered to work practically any shift that came his way, on either station. He worked in nearly every capacity on the radio before moving into Community Engagement, Marketing, and Digital Media. His reporting and criticism has been honored by the Houston Press Club and Texas Associated Press.