The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations
By Zhu Xiao-Mei
“When my piano arrived… I played the Goldberg Variations. And I was reborn. Once again, I was saved by music.”
– Zhu Xiao-Mei
At the age of ten, Zhu Xiao-Mei enrolled at the Beijing Conservatory. However, when the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, music schools closed. One by one Zhu and her fellow students, teachers, and family were sent to prison or labor camps. Zhu’s memoir tells her extraordinary story of how music, and her piano, sustained her sense of courage, hope, and humanity during and after her imprisonment.
For Zhu, two pieces embody her experience of transformation and liberation: Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Beethoven’s final piano sonata, Op. 111. Performing these monumental works is the extraordinary young pianist Chuang-Chuang Fang, a doctoral student of Jeffrey Kahane at USC.
Date, performers, venue, and repertoire subject to change.
The Secret Piano may be ordered through Vroman’s Bookstore.