Hard Work ‘Plays’ Off

Enzo Zhao is only 8 years old, but he is already three years into what he hopes will be a lifelong career as a concert pianist. When he was 5, Enzo, who comes from a family with little musical background, decided that he wanted to start taking piano lessons.

“I had a small keyboard when I was little, and whenever I played with it, it inspired me,” said Enzo. “I thought that piano was cool because you can play a lot of different kinds of music with one instrument.”

Enzo’s first recognition as a pianist was in 2015 at the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition, where he received an honorable mention. Since then, he has accumulated an impressive number of professional experiences for such a young musician. In 2016, he was selected from thousands of international applicants to play at Carnegie Hall in New York, and in October 2017, he won a Gold Medal at the Seattle Bach Festival. He recently won the Silver Medal at the Chopin Northwest Music Festival in Bellevue, which he played at in February. And in May, he participated in the Orchestra Recital Series of Tacoma for a second year, learning alongside older musicians from the Tacoma area.

Enzo learns a lot of classical pieces, but he also dabbles in jazz. He doesn’t have a favorite genre, though — he likes to play everything. Self-motivated and serious about the instrument, he knows how much he needs to practice in order to play his songs the way he wants to.

“I do a lot of work when I have new songs or a new task that I’m working on. Usually, I practice for an hour every day during the week, and an hour and a half on the weekend.”

His love of music extends beyond daily practice sessions and frequent piano competitions.

“He loves to share his music,” said Derek Zhao, Enzo’s father. “Once a month, he plays at Frank Tobey Jones, a senior center in Tacoma. We’re very proud to see him caring for others through his talent, and we hope that he continues to do so.”

is an assistant editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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