Christian Long

Qi Zhang: Electrifying Organ Performance

In TED Talks on April 21, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Reflection by SUSIE C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Qi Zhang:  Electrifying Organ Performance

In this TED “talk”, the speaker uses, not their voice, but their hands and feet to amaze and inspire the TED audience.

Organ virtuoso Qi Zhang has been playing since she was nine years old and is now a Master’s candidate at USC’s Thornton School of Music. In this TED video, she is playing a rare Yamaha Electone Stagea which she programmed herself.

After watching this amazing performance, I was amazed to find that most of the comments for this video on the TED website discuss the instrument more than the artist.

Many people complain that her electric organ is not a “true” instrument. They say that it uses sound clips and therefore does not hold the same emotional quality as a real instrument. Others also said that it does not sound as good as the full orchestra which it imitates.

However, Evan Maruszewski, made an interesting point in his comment. He said that organs have always attempted to sound like other instruments, and “the stops of a pipe organ are labeled clearly with the instrument they seek to emulate”.

I am not an expert on organs and therefore do not know if that is true, but either way, one cannot help but appreciate the talent of the artist whatever the instrument. Qi Zhang’s hands seem to fly across the keyboard. They move so quickly that when I first watched this video I thought it had been sped up, but she truly is that fast!

The speed and skill with which she plays are probably the reasons this video’s most popular tag is “jaw-dropping”.

I was disappointed to learn from one of the comments that the video on the official TED site is not the full performance. The full video is attached to this post, or can be found at I highly recommend watching it in its entirety!


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