Ning Lu is one of the world’s most renowned contemporary pianists. Born in Beijing, China, Lu grew up in a very musically inclined family. He sat himself in front of a piano when he was four years old, taking after his father, and has not stopped playing since. At the age of ten, Lu was accepted into Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music.
“I was one of the three pianists selected that year,” recalls Lu, “So I started training professionally at a very early age.” In the 1980s, at the age of 20, he moved the United States after winning the National Piano Competition in China. Lu has won many competitions in the U.S., including the Salt Lake City International Piano Competition in 1988. In 1989, Lu enrolled at the U, earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and eventually earning his PhD in Piano Studies at the University of Denver.
Lu has been teaching piano professionally for 30 years, educating his students in historically appropriate pieces and technique. He has spent 12 of those years teaching at the U’s School of Music. Alongside his teaching, he has presented master classes and workshops throughout the U.S. and China, as well as Japan, Germany, Austria, and Canada.
In 2013 he founded the Utah International Piano Academy through the U’s School Of Music, which was conceived to welcome a more international selection of students to the campus. It has proven to be a success, having brought over 120 piano students to Utah from across the globe since its inception. In the same year he founded the piano academy, he also became the host for the annual Helen Taylor Johannesen International Piano Competition. Lu does it all—from the scheduling of halls and concerts to picking up performers and students from the airport. Over half of the participating students have experience in national and international competitions—and some of them came from Lu’s old stomping grounds at the Beijing Conservatory of Music. The winners of the competitions are rewarded such accolades as cash prizes and even scholarships to the U, thus enhancing Lu’s reputation for expanding the school’s international draw.
Lu is as passionate about teaching piano as he is about playing it. All of his classes and workshops, the competitions and the academy, are fueled by Lu’s belief in the importance of bringing people together from all over the world through music and his drive to help each of his students succeed musically.
“I continue to support my students as well as my university colleagues in achieving the excellence in musical education at the U,” Lu said. In addition to offering private piano lessons, Lu is currently an associate professor of piano and continues teaching at the School of Music at the U. He also continues to host the Helen Taylor Johannesen International Piano Competition, which will take place this year July 30–Aug. 2. Lu also has two students enrolled in the International Piano Competitions taking place at the Rose Wagner Theater in Downtown Salt Lake from now until June 28.