Zhang Jun

Designated a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Kunqu artist Zhang Jun is a National Class One Performer, winner of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, and Artistic Director of the Shanghai Zhang Jun Kunqu Art Center in his home base in China, where his artistry has won him the accolade as the “Prince of Kunqu”. He specializes in xiaosheng (young male) roles in Kunju Opera, trained under the illustrious artists Cai Zhengren, Yue Meiti and Zhou Zhigang, who were themselves disciples of Maestro Yu Zhenfei. Zhang is therefore a third-generation artist in the Yu stylistic school. He was the recipient of many coveted awards, including an Outstanding Performance Award at the Plum Blossom Awards for Chinese Theatre, Best Lead Actor at the Shanghai Magnolia Awards, and the United Nations Grand Prix for Promoting and Developing Kunju Opera. He was also named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of Shanghai City. In his performing career of over thirty years, Zhang has created a diverse range of roles through such monumental productions as The Peony Pavilion, The Palace of Eternal Life, Blossoms on a Spring Moonlit Night, and I, Hamlet. He played a lead role in Tan Dun’s opera, Marco Polo, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2010.

Zhang is known for his long-term commitment to revitalize and promote the ancient art form of Kunqu. He has given more than 400 interactive shows called ‘Bringing Kunqu Closer to the Young’ and talks entitled ‘I Am a Xiaosheng’ and ‘Give the Past a Future’ since 1998, at campuses all over the world including the Harvard in the US.

In May 2011, Zhang was designated as one of the UNESCO Artists for Peace for his long-term commitment to promoting the intangible cultural heritage of Kunqu Opera, which made him the third Chinese artist to be designated after the film actress, Gong Li, and the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe.