Shenshen Zhang

Picture of Chinese Pipa Virtuoso Shenshen Zhang


A native of Wenzhou, China, Shenshen Zhang began playing the pipa at the age of nine. At thirteen, she auditioned and was accepted into the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where in 1992, she was awarded a Bachelor's Degree. In 2005, Ms Zhang received Master's Degree in Musicology from Xiamen University. As an award-​​winning concert soloist, she performed and toured extensively through-​​out Asia and the U.S. Since making her home in SF Bay Area in 2006, Ms. Zhang has combined her lengthy performance career and her vast experience as an educator, preserving the musical heritage of China while also exploring other world cultures. Ms. Zhang taught music at Stanford University from 2015 to 2017, and she has her own pipa studio in Silicon Valley where she teaches classical Chinese music to a diverse student population.


Matthew Montfort and Shenshen Zhang

This video captures the very first time that Chinese pipa master Shenshen Zhang and scalloped fretboard guitar pioneer Matthew Montfort played together. They met on August 21, 2011, at an acoustic guitar concert set up by steel string guitarist Mark Kostrzewa with Matthew Montfort on scalloped fretboard guitar and Richard Patterson on classical guitar at The Wine Bar in Half Moon Bay. Mark invited Shenshen Zhang to perform a number by herself. Matthew invited her to jam with him, and this is exactly what happened from their first note together! The unedited video was recorded by Mariah Parker from the audience.

Lobby Lounge Video Performance

Featuring Shenshen Zhang and Matthew Montfort

"We recently hosted our most exotic Lobby Lounge show to date. You don't often get to hear music by Chinese pipa and 11-string fretless guitar. But that's what we have in the duo of Shenshen Zhang, a concert soloist on the Chinese pipa, and Matthew Montfort, leader of the Marin world music band Ancient Future, playing the seldom-seen fretless guitar and scalloped fretboard guitar. The pipa, sometimes called a Chinese lute, is a pear-shaped, four-stringed instrument that has been played in China for some 2,000 years. Shenshen first picked up the ancient instrument when she was 9, playing music with her mother in her native Wenzhou. listed Montfort among the 100 greatest acoustic guitarists. He and Shenshen first played together during a 2011 round-robin guitar night in Half Moon Bay. They met when he invited her on stage to jam with him. Magic ensued. Their on-the-spot improvisation was spellbinding, a spell they cast once again in their mesmerizing Lobby Lounge performance." - Paul Liberatore, Lobby Lounge, Marin Independent Journal (read full article)