Zhou Long

Pulitzer Prize Winning Music Composer

Dr. Zhou is a Pulitzer Prize winning composer, internationally recognized for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic and musical elements of East and West. Deeply grounded in the entire spectrum of his Chinese heritage, he is a pioneer in transferring the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions to modern Western instruments and ensembles. Zhou Long was born into an artistic family and began piano lessons at an early age.

Dr. Zhou is currently Visiting Professor of Composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for the opera “Madame White Snake.” In addition, he is the recipient of the 2003 Academy Award in Music, a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In May 2002, he was Music Alive! Composer-in-Residence of the Seattle Symphony's “Silk Road Project” Festival with Yo-Yo Ma, supported by the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer.

Among the ensembles commissioning works from him are the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Singapore Symphony, the Tokyo Philharmonic, the New Music Consort, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Kronos, Shanghai, Ciompi, and Chester string quartets and the vocal ensemble Chanticleer.

What makes KC a great environment for creativity and the arts?
The diversity of cultures we have here is so important. Kansas City has had a great multi-cultural tradition through history.

What is your favorite spot in Kansas City?
We enjoy the Nelson Art Gallery. It’s kind of the front door to where I work at UMKC and is nice for long walks around the grounds.

Where's your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
Beijing. It’s my hometown and the place where I was born and raised. It’s such a flourishing place now more than ever before.

What's your most treasured possession?
The Pulitzer Prize. Not just because I won the award but it’s the quintessential American award. I’ve been a U.S. citizen since 1999, but winning the Pulitzer made me feel fully recognized here.

Who's your favorite fictional hero?
I have liked Charles Bronson’s characters. He’s not a showman. All business.

Who do you most admire in real-life?
I had a favorite teacher at Columbia University. Not just for his technical skills but how he inspired me in cultural traditions and philosophies.

When and where are you happiest?
I was probably happiest as a student. It’s more of a struggle once you are past that time. I’m also always happy when I am teaching students.

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