Joint Venture Percussion Duo

Click for Laurent's Bio & Duo Bio

Xi (Rachel) Zhang was born in 1987 in Harbin, China’s capital of music. Having a great passion for music, she started to learn piano at the age of four with Wan-yun Ma, giving performances on the Children Program of the Heilongjiang TV station and at Harbin North Theatre. Even at a young age, Rachel’s perfect pitch made it possible for her to tell the subtle differences when the teacher tuned the piano. 

In 1996, Rachel and her parents moved to Shenzhen where she continued to excel in music,  receiving attention as the principal timpanist in the Children Ensemble and Students’ Symphony Orchestra performing in Shenzhen, Beijing and Hong Kong.  Within a few years, Rachel enrolled in Shenzhen Art School, majoring in percussion with Wa Li while pursuing piano and composition as well. At the invitation of the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, Rachel performed as 2nd timpanist for the 80th anniversary of People’s Republic of China. 

In 2002, she was the first prize winner for marimba in the Shenzhen section, and the gold medalist in the National Teenage Instrumental Competition. In 2005, Rachel received second prize in the first Top Class Marimba Competition held by the Central Conservatory of Music. She participated in international percussion master classes held by the Central Conservatory of Music. 

In 2006, Rachel was accepted to the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where she studied with Jan Pustjens, Peter Prommel, Nick Woud, Victor Oskam, Gustavo Gimeno, Mark Braafhart, Arnold Marinissen and Lorenzo Ferrandiz.  Shortly after her enrollment, she received first prize at the Princess Christina Concours in Haarlem, The Netherlands, and was invited as a judge for the competition the following year. Rachel participated in many performances representing the Conservatory, both in classical and modern music. While commencing her collegiate studies, Rachel formed the Joint Venture Percussion Duo with Laurent Warnier, and toured The Netherlands and other European countries. Rachel returned to China in 2008 with the Amsterdam Percussion Quartet (including Laurent and peers from the Conservatory), giving performances at Harbin Arts University, Shenyang Conservatory of Music, Central Conservatory of Music and Shenzhen Music Hall. 

Rachel has also performed many times with the Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble, Ligeti Academy, Netherlands Brass Ensemble and other groups at Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Haarlem, The Hague, Rotterdam and other concert halls in The Netherlands.

Rachel graduated from the Conservatorium in May of 2010, where she received their highest, rare honor: the Certificate “With Distinction.”  Following her graduation, she relocated to the United States, where she received a Masters from the Boston Conservatory studying with world famous marimbist Nancy Zeltsman.  She is continuing her studies in Boston as a candidate for the prestigious Artist Diploma. 

Rachel gives concerts throughout the US and abroad.  She was a showcase artist at the Zeltsman Marimba Festival in Wisconsin, performed as a Marimba One Discovery Artist at multiple editions of the Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, performed in the Young Chinese Outstanding Percussionist Concert in Xi'an, China, was a featured marimba soloist at the Ivana Bilic Marimba Week in Samobor, Croatia, and frequently performs as the percussionist of the Amsterdam based sextet Looptail.