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Jessica Zhou

Principal Harp, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Nicholas and Thalia Zervas chair, endowed in perpetuity by Sophia and Bernard Gordon

Principal Harp, Boston Pops Orchestra

Jessica Zhou headshot with harp


Born in Beijing, China, BSO principal harp Jessica Zhou joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2009, occupying the Nicholas and Thalia Zervis Chair. In 2001, Zhou became the first and only Chinese harpist ever to win top prizes in three of the most prestigious harp competitions in the world, including the Prix du Jury at the Third Lily Laskine International Harp Competition in Deauville, France; fourth prize in the USA International Harp Competition; and second prize at the 14th International Harp Contest in Israel. That same year she won the 2001 Pro Musicis International Award, leading to her critically acclaimed New York debut in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. She is a two-time winner of the Anne Adams Award National Harp Competition sponsored by the American Harp Society, which presented her in recitals in Boston, Hartford, New York City, San Diego, Mexico, and Taipei, Taiwan, where she also served as chairman of the jury in the First Taiwan National Harp Competition. As a soloist, Zhou has performed with the Israel Philharmonic, Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra in San Diego, New York City Opera Orchestra, and Geneva Chamber Orchestra, where she gave the world premiere of Haim Permont's Double Harp Concerto during the 2002 World Harp Congress. Her appearances as concerto soloist with the BSO include performances of Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp in C major with BSO principal flute Elizabeth Rowe, at Symphony Hall in January 2016; in August 2016 at Tanglewood; and in November 2017 in Tokyo's Suntory Hall during the BSO's Japan tour with Andris Nelsons conducting. As a chamber musician, Zhou has performed on numerous occasions with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, as well as with the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Boston Chamber Music Society, Caramoor Music Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival, North Country Chamber Players, and Pacific Music Festival in Japan, where she premiered Christopher Rouse's Compline for harp, clarinet, flute, and string quartet. From 2004 until 2009 when she joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she was principal harpist of New York City Opera. Other orchestral appearances have included the New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Moscow Chamber Orchestra. She has also toured Japan with the London Symphony Orchestra. Zhou is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, where she studied with Joan Holland. A faculty member at Tanglewood Music Center, Boston University, and New England Conservatory, she holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the Juilliard School, where she was a student of Nancy Allen.

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