Tell us a little about your artistic background and journeys especially in Calgary?
Bob: First of all, hello everybody! My name is Bob Zhang, and I am a professional classical music conductor. I graduated from the China Central Conservatory of Music, where my major is conducting. I have a rich experience in orchestra and chorus rehearsals for the past sixteen years. During my career, I have worked with over twenty different professional orchestras and choirs. As an educator, I am very keen on teaching and promoting students in primary and secondary schools. I settled down in Calgary in 2016, and I have conducted several concerts and events at Mount Royal University. I’m the director of the Calgary Chinese Orchestra, and I have also been a piano tutor in Calgary for about five years.
Can you tell us what inspires you to create?
Bob: For me, the first and the most important thing is my passion for music. That’s what it is all about. After moving to Canada, I felt like the culture here is very, very diverse. That is what inspired me to combine Chinese and Western music and cultures. For example, we can use Chinese traditional instruments to play Western music, or vice versa, with the background knowledge and understanding of both cultures.
What challenges have you identified specifically for artists new to Canada, especially Calgary?
Bob: This is a good question… For me, and for many other artists that are new to Canada, the language barrier is one of the biggest challenges. Something more specific to Calgary would be noticing the cultural differences when working and communicating. Luckily for me, music is something that everyone can speak. Music is a language itself, right? So, I hope that the audience and those who are reading this interview will get a chance to see my concerts instead of listening to me talk. Let the music do the speaking.
Since your arrival in Canada in 2016, what are the proud moments you would like to share with the people of Calgary about what you do?
Bob: As a classical music conductor, I am proud that I had the opportunity to continue and enhance my musical career in Canada. I am very proud to be the director of the Calgary Chinese Musical Orchestra, where I got the chance to collaborate on concerts with local music organizations like the University of Calgary Ensemble. There are not many on-stage opportunities in the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I am hopeful and eager to get back on stage in the near future. I want to learn even more classical music with eastern influences and continue to share my interest and passion in music with the great residents of Calgary.
Tell us about IAMP and how it impacted your career here?
Bob: IAMP helped me a lot. First off, it was very difficult for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. But IAMP gave us all a lot of great opportunities. ICAI gave us resources and mentors, that in-turn gave us a lot of great opportunities. Listening to artists from different fields is very valuable and interesting. IAMP was very valuable to me overall. IAMP was helpful to help me build a bridge to the Canadian arts and music fields. Smitha, and every member of the ICAI/Mentor team has been very kind and patient with every problem or question I’ve had. ICAI helps promote us to the public and I am very grateful to ICAI for IAMP.
What are you looking forward to in the next few months?
Bob: I am looking forward to different auditions and opportunities. The Christmas and Chinese New year concerts will be great. As a musician, I am always looking for collaboration opportunities with different music organizations like orchestras, wind bands, choirs, etc. Everyone is always welcome to come and join me in the music world!
Bob Zhang’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/conductorzhang
CKUA Interview: https://ckua.com/listen/icai-artist-of-the-month-bang-bob-zhang/