Tian Zhou Associate Professor of Composition


  • Composition

403 Music Practice Building
East Lansing, MI 48824


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Zhou Tian [JOH TEE-en] is associate professor of composition at Michigan State University College of Music. 

Described as “absolutely beautiful” and “utterly satisfying” (Fanfare), the works of Chinese-born American composer Zhou Tian have been performed by major orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and by leading soloists and ensembles such as pianist Yuja Wang, violist Roberto Díaz, guitarist Jason Vieaux, violinist Caroline Goulding, flutist Jeffrey Khaner, the Eroica Trio, the Arditti and Dover string quartets, the Empire Brass, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. His newest work, “Concerto for Orchestra,” (“stunning,” “tonal and engaging” —Cincinnati Enquirer), commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony, premiered in the orchestra’s 2015-16 season finale, conducted by music director Louis Langrée.  

Critically acclaimed for his lush and distinctive musical voice, Zhou’s music has been performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, broadcast on NPR and PBS, and recorded on Cedille, Innova, and Pacific records. His large-scale symphonic suite for soloists, orchestra and chorus, “The Grand Canal,” was performed during a nationally televised celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He holds degrees from Curtis (B.M.), Juilliard (M.M.), and USC Thornton School of Music (D.M.A.); he is a first-prize winner of Washington International Composers Competition and ASCAP/Lotte Lehmann Art Song Competition; and he has held fellowships from Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals. His principal teachers included Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Rouse, and Stephen Hartke. He comes to MSU from Colgate University in New York, where he taught since 2011. He joins his wife, Mingzhao—a violinist at the Detroit Symphony—as a Michigander. 

Note: Zhou Tian is pronounced: JOH TEE-en. Zhou is his family name and Tian is his given name. He goes by Zhou (Joh), or formally, Dr. Zhou

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra presents Zhou Tian's Concerto for Orchestra: