Watch Out Lang Lang, Here Comes Niu Niu!

By David Li,

Arrived at Walnut Hill School of Arts four years ago from Xiamen, Fujian province, China, Niu Niu performed at his graduation recital on May 9 at the school in Natick, Mass. The room was packed by about 80 teachers, students and family friends. Niu Niu performed three challenging pieces by Chopin, Beethoven and Mussorgsky, and received long standing ovation from the audience.
Niu Niu(second from right) poses for a picture with his parents, sister, and Mrs. Tema Chen.

After three encores, Niu Niu thanked the Walnut Hill community for supporting him over past few years. He passed a bouquet of flowers from the audience to Mrs. Tema Chen. “I came to Boston from China because of Prof. Chen.” Chen was in New York City that night to be a judge an event at Juilliard. Niu Niu also gave thanks to Ms. Cathy Tan of Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts. “She is like a mom to all Asian students,” said Niu Niu.

Niu Niu was born in July 1997, Year of Ox. The nickname Niu Niu means little ox. His formal name is Shengliang Zhang. His father Changfeng Zhang is a graduate of Xiamen University School of Music. Niu Niu started concert appearances at age six, and has performed internationally in famous concert halls in France, England, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and others since age seven.

Changfeng Zhang was busy shooting videos of his son’s recital on the night. He said Niu Niu practices piano three hours a day on average, and never participated in any domestic or international music competitions. In December 2013, 16-year-old Niu Niu became an ICA (Internal Concert Artist) signed pianist. “It’s really a blessing to see what Niu Niu has achieved so far. We are really proud of him,” said Mr. Zhang.

According to his mother Zhili Shi, Niu Niu applied for three top music schools: NEC, Juilliard and John Hopkins University’s Peabody, and was accepted to all of them. NEC gave Niu Niu a perfect score. Juilliard offered full scholarship, including accommodation and living expenses.

“We like the cultural atmosphere of Boston. Prof. Chen has accepted a faculty poison at Juilliard. So Niu Niu decided to follow his teacher to New York City. In the future, we may return to Boston where we have had lots of cherished memories, “said Ms. Shi.

Indeed, a rising classical music star with internal following like Niu Niu, which music school wouldn’t like to take him as a freshman? So, next time when you are asked “who is the best young pianist from China besides Lang Lang?” You will know the answer as you have already read his story on

Letter of Admission from Juilliard

Letter of Admission from JHU’s Peabody Conservatory of Music

Dear Shengliang,

We are pleased to announce that you have been accepted to the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University for the coming academic year. In addition, you have been offered a teacher choice of Ellen Mack or Benjamin Pasternack.

For information about how to accept or decline our offer, go to The deadline for responding is April 15th (for graduates) or May 1st (for undergraduates). Be advised that in a very few cases (typically less than one percent) last-minute changes in faculty assignments must be made.

All applicants to Peabody are considered for financial assistance. If you received financial aid, you may view it online in Net Partner through the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS). If you have never accessed ISIS, please authenticate your account at with the ISIS ID that appears above. If you are an existing ISIS user (current or former Peabody or Johns Hopkins University student), please login to ISIS at with your JHED ID and JHED password. You will find complete instructions for accessing ISIS at When you have logged in to your ISIS account, click on the Financial Aid > Summary tab for a link to Net Partner.

You will find more information about Peabody Financial Aid’s online services at If you need assistance, please contact Peabody Financial Aid at [email protected]. Students who were not awarded aid are welcome to visit the Financial Aid page of Peabody’s website or to contact us for information about alternate financing options.

We have prepared a section of the Peabody Admissions FAQ for accepted students. You can find them at

Our Student Affairs Office has prepared a checklist of required tasks that must be completed before arriving at Peabody in August. It can be found here:

If you can’t find what you need on the web site, call one of the following numbers:
For anything having to do with admissions: 410-234-4848, or 1-800-368-2521
For anything having to do with financial assistance: 410-234-4900
For anything having to do with housing or student life: 410-234-4540

And, if all else fails, you can email [email protected]. If we can’t answer your questions, we will forward it to someone who can.

You will receive a printed acceptance letter in the mail for your records.

Congratulations on your acceptance!


David Lane
Director of Admissions
Peabody Conservatory of Music
The Johns Hopkins University

Letter of Admission from NEC

Dear Shengliang,

Congratulations! On behalf of the Piano faculty and Admissions Committee of New England Conservatory, I am pleased to offer you admission to the Fall 2014 Bachelor of Music program in Piano Performance. Your audition and overall application represents the caliber of musician that NEC is proud to have as part of our student body. Admission to NEC recognizes both your talent and your potential for success, and we hope that you are proud of this accomplishment!

In the interest of time, we are sending this official decision to you via email. To download all the appropriate admission information and enrollment forms, please visit our webpage for admitted students at We will not send a hard copy of this email or the enrollment documents unless you contact us to specifically request that we do so.

To reserve your place in the entering class, please complete and return the Candidate Response Form with a non-refundable tuition deposit of US $500. Both the form and deposit must be received no later than May 1, 2014, after which your place in the incoming class may be offered to a student on the waiting list.

If you have completed the financial aid process in a timely fashion, your award will be sent in a separate email shortly. If you have any questions about financial aid, please contact the Financial Aid Office directly at (617) 585-1110 or [email protected].

In order for us to send the I-20 form that you will need to obtain an F-1 student visa, you must complete and return the Certification of Finance Form and corresponding bank statement(s). These documents must be submitted to us by May 15. If you have received scholarship from NEC, please list this scholarship as one of the sources of funding on the form. We cannot send you an I-20 form until we receive this paperwork.

Please note that all offers of admission are provisional until we have received a final, official transcript documenting coursework, grades, and the date of conferral of the qualifying degree or diploma. Final transcripts are due August 1. If we already have a final transcript on file, you do not need to send it again.

We hope that you accept this offer of admission and will choose to enroll with us this fall. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We look forward to the opportunity to welcome you to New England Conservatory in August!


Hank Mou
Assistant Dean for Admissions