ZhangoMusiq was founded in 2006, a non-governmental organisation focused on creating musical concerts where 100% of the concert revenues are donated to humanitarian and ecological projects around the world. ZhangoMusiq had created more than 50 concerts in the past decade, funds were raised for educational aid, helping the poor, the elderly, and the handicapped, rescuing endangered species, offering post-disaster relief, creating access to water and more, in more than 20 countries.
Zhang Zhang, founder of ZhangoMusiq, was in Singapore last year as the VIP guest for Asia’s first-ever Monaco Film Festival, along with fellow member and guitarist, Leopoldo Giannola. We met with Zhang to find out more about the brilliant causes of ZhangoMusiq and the world tour which she has already embarked on.
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE THAT YOU WANT TO CONVEY THROUGH ZHANGOMUSIQ AND WHAT MADE YOU ENTERPRISE THIS IDEA IN THE FIRST PLACE?
I created my very first charity concert in 2005 in Monaco, joining the global solidarity movement to help victims of the 2004 South East Asia Tsunami. The concert was a great success, it was also a turning point for me: If Musical Concerts can generate concrete support to those in need, why do we not propose more charity concerts? Not only as unique events after a real catastrophic disaster, but regularly, helping people everywhere, every day.
“Glamour and Generosity” was the style of our ZhangoMusiq concerts in the early days, playing in Monaco supporting projects all over the world. In 2009 we gave a concert in the beautiful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, raising more than 21,000 euros, which went to building a school for girls in Afghanistan. Our goal was to unite the Monegasques to an elegant gathering, sharing good music for good causes, and where everyone comes together helping a worthy project – The psychology of joining an enjoyable social event with concrete humanitarian work is a win-win combination.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS AND SUCCESSES OF ZHANGOMUSIQ SO FAR?
ZhangoMusiq participated in musical performances and speeches in international platforms such as the Summit of Conscience in Paris in 2015, a summit focusing on Climate Change, sharing the stage with HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Mr. Kofi Annan and other world leaders. In July 2016, we performed the very first Earth-to-Solar Plane concert for Mr. Bertrand Piccard, during the final leg of the Around the World Flight of Solar Impulse. October 2017, I gave a TEDx Talk titled ‘The Beauty of Transformation’ in Marseille for an audience of 1000. November 2017, we were the special guest at the launching of the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions at the COP23 UN Climate conference in Bonn, Germany.
In September 2017, with the generous support of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the government of Monaco and the Walanpatrias Foundation, ZhangoMusiq embarked on a two-year world tour in various regions of the globe, focusing on raising funds and awareness, promoting peace and solidarity by uniting people through music. We have since performed in Geneva, Paris, Bonn, Singapore, Bangkok, Chiangmai, and Penang. Upcoming concerts will take place in Saigon, Hong Kong, USA, and of course Monaco.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE WHEN PROMOTING ZHANGOMUSIQ?
Firstly, we have benefited from great support in Monaco since the very start – the government of HSH Prince Albert II and the residents of Monaco. Philanthropy and generosity are very much part of the Principality’s heritage and DNA. But when we began to tour in other countries, we have at times experienced a certain disbelief from some local organisers. Our model is quite unique: Musicians offering concerts to help local causes, paying their own way and not asking for any compensation in return. Sometimes, our proposals are met with doubts: Why are you people playing for free? Are you really professional musicians?
Once, we gave a concert in Bangkok, to generate funding for blind students studying music. The administrators were doubtful of our ‘professional quality’ so they did not fully promote the concert. Consequently, the hall was not very full. After the concert, the director of the Department apologised and regretted not all their students and staff benefited from the concert. They admitted they had never heard of top level professional artists paying to come to another continent to give philanthropic concerts.
We understand innovative concepts will need time to be understood by the greater public, which is why effective communication is essential. But no project is too small for us! As a child I lived in a 9 square meter room in Beijing with my family with less than 10 dollars a month. One more dollar would have made a big difference to our lives then. If more and more musical concerts share our model, imagine how many people we can help!
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM ZHANGOMUSIQ FROM HERE ON?
ZhangoMusiq is changing the way we consider what ‘live’ musical concerts can offer to our societies. We wish to transform the ‘live’ concert model into events that go beyond entertainment, becoming a consistent generator of positive impact for our communities. Our goal is to continue generating funding and awareness for worthy projects, not only in humanitarian aid but also ecological projects, which are essential to the well-being of our Planet. Often the two are connected, many of the humanitarian crisis in the world today are directly the result of climate change.
Our mission also includes ‘Musical Diplomacy’ events, where we would assist and accompany the Diplomatic Corps of Monaco on various missions, and working closely with the various Monaco Tourism Offices to promote the Principality. In the past we have worked with Ambassadors of Monaco in Tokyo, Brussels, Moscow, Paris, and Rome.
Besides our fundraising charity concerts, in 2018, ZhangoMusiq projects will also include a concert conference with Neuro Scientist, Prof. Stanislas Dehaene in NeuroSpin Research Centre of Paris; concert for the NATO Allied Command of Transformation in Norfolk; performance for the King Abdullah bin Adbulaziz International Centre for Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna; and play for the Amboseli Nature Reserve in Kenya towards environmental protection.
WE KNOW THAT MONACO HAS LEFT A LIFE-CHANGING IMPACT ON YOU. WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT MONACO THAT YOU WILL LIKE TO SHARE WITH US?
If not for Monaco, ZhangoMusiq would never have come to be. Where else on the planet could a young violinist from a distant country solicit the support and encouragement of the Sovereign Prince and his Government? HSH Prince Albert II has, on several occasions, taken the time to hear about my projects, past and future. Where else in the world would a simple musician have the chance to explain in person to the Head of State her vision of a better world? And to benefit from the government’s support in the pursuit of this aspiration.
Monaco is a marvellous and unique place, intimate in size but international in content, rich in cultural and artistic heritage, diverse yet inclusive, innovative yet audacious. I would not be the musician I am today without these opportunities. I am constantly inspired and surprised by new ideas and new adventures, in such a small country, there is so much to explore and discover! Monaco is much more than meets the eye. This is a place for explorers and game changers, for artists and entrepreneurs, where so many essentials in life are gathered in one magnificent package.
Having left my home country before the age of ten, leading a nomadic life until I came to Monaco, here I have discovered – beneath the sparkling elegance – a community of generous and fascinating people. A place where a young musician from Beijing with neither fortune nor family can pursue and live her dreams, a nation where excellence is encouraged and rewarded, a town where a woman need never be concerned about her safety, even if it is to go for a swim alone in the sea at midnight! Finally, I have found my home. While I continue to explore and travel, I now have a place to return to and, that, is truly the best gift of all.
Follow ZhangoMusiq and Zhang Zhang in their musical philanthropy missions! www.zhangzhang.com