FOLSOM — Tchaikovsky at Carnegie Hall, Chopin at Manchester’s Concert Hall, and Nathan Zhang at Theodore Judah Elementary school.
You won’t find the audience dressed in ball gowns and tuxedos at Theodore Judah, but the classical music pouring into the Folsom lunchroom is competition for even the greatest performers.
“I realized I really enjoyed playing for them,” said Nathan Zhang, a piano prodigy.
At his own request, a couple of times a week, 10-year-old Nathan skips recess, pulls up a chair and plays the piano for first-graders while they eat lunch.
If you think that’s sweet, why he does it will melt your heart.
“I think it’s good for them, it adds a little bit of music in their lunch period, and I think that’s really enjoyable,” he said.
At the age of 5, Nathan sat down at his first piano. Today he plays songs from the greats.
Bach’s English Suite No. 2 is one of his favorites. But he still caters to his young fans.
“Most people like to listen to Chopin because it’s very lyrical, and I think it’s easier to understand, and it’s in the romantic period of music,” he said.
It’s not just his endless classical music knowledge that’s impressive, it’s that Nathan’s heart is in the right place when he puts on a show.
“Him wanting to take his recess and give back is amazing. I think good character is when somebody isn’t watching. This has been happening for a while, it’s neat that our student’s good character is being shown,” Principal Canen Peterson said.
Nathan won a music competition and got to play the piano at Carnegie Hall last year. He says it was one of the best experiences of his life.