Chinese opera performer
Born in 1974, Zhang is a native Shanghainese and received his education in Shanghai. He successively graduated from Shanghai Drama School (1986-1994), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (1997-2000), and got his MFA Degree from Shanghai Theatre Academy (2006-2008). Zhang started learning Kunqu at the year of 12 and became a professional Kunqu actor since 1994 in Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe. In 2009, Zhang has founded his own Kunqu art center in his name, which is the first privately-owned professional Kunqu Opera troupe in China ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Meanwhile Zhang Jun Kunqu Art Fund has also been founded by Shanghai Cultural Development Foundation.
Zhang Jun is officially ranked as China’s national Top-class Performer. Regarded as the “Prince of Kunqu Opera”, Zhang plays the “Hsiao Sheng” (young-man) role type of the 600-year-old Chinese Kunqu Opera, a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity proclaimed by UNESCO in 2001, and has acted many leading roles in famous Kunqu plays such as The Peony Pavilion, The Palace of Eternal Youth and The Jade Hairpin. Zhang has won China’s national top performing award--the Meihua (Plum Flower) Award as well as many acting prizes and honorable titles including one of the Shanghai Ten Outstanding Young Persons in 2004, the China National Young Cultural Elites in 2006 and one of China’s Best Ten Kunqu Performers in 2007. Zhang has also played the leading role in Tan Dun’s opera Marco Polo, which was nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award.
Apart from the achievements in the performing art field, Zhang also has a long-term commitment to popularize and promote the art of Kunqu. Since 1998, Zhang has hosted over 300 interactive performances called “Kunqu Approaching Youth” and given lectures in universities and high schools both home and abroad. In order to create new channels of getting Kunqu the worldwide spread to the audience, Zhang has been doing quite many cross-over works with artists in different fields including Academy Award winner Tan Dun, famous Chinese conductor Muhai Tang, Japanese Kabuki actor Ichikawa, Chinese-American pop singer Leehom Wong as well as ballet dancers, violinists, visual artists and so on. Zhang has always been enthusiastic about public welfare undertakings and social activities; he was appointed as the ambassador of China’s charity program the Hope Project and was one of the Cultural Ambassadors to promote the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
Zhang published his autobiography I am Hsiao Sheng in the summer of 2008.