Drawn to Pittsburgh: Jia Hong-Guang and Zhan Shu

From left to right: PSO violist Meng Wang, Jia Hong-Guang , PSO cellist Adam Liu, and Zhan Shu

by Craig Knox

PSO Assistant-Concertmaster Jia Hong-Guang, a native of Shenyang, China, left that country in 1979 to study with the famed Yehudi Menuhin. He began his orchestral career playing in the Baltimore Symphony, and was later appointed Assistant-Concertmaster in Montreal by Charles Dutoit. When the same position became vacant in the PSO, Hong-Guang did not hesitate. “The PSO was one of the very best orchestras in the U.S., and was led by Lorin Maazel, one of the great conductors”, he says. Around that same time, Zhan Shu was just a seven year old violin student in China when he saw the PSO and Maestro Maazel’s performance in Beijing during its 1987 Far East tour on television. Years later, after studying at the Mannes School and Indiana University, Shu joined the Milwaukee Symphony, where he played for 8 years. When a position opened in the PSO violin section, he remembered the concert he’d heard as a young boy. “After being so inspired by this great American orchestra when I was just beginning as a musician, it meant so much to me to join it years later as a member!”