Xiaolu Zang wins the 2024 Maria Canals

Great enthusiasm and high spirits at the Maria Canals international Piano Competition in Barcelona

Xiaolu Zang (24) is the winner of the 2024 Maria Canals international Music Competition of Barcelona. 

Born in Qinhuangdao, he attended the Beijing Central Music Conservatory Middle School for seven years under Professor Ye Lin and won first prizes in several major Chinese competitions. At the age of 15, he decided to pursue a career in piano and moved to Germany, where he studies with Arie Vardi at Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover.

He performed numerous concerts in China, Germany, Japan, Austria, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Dubai. His strong interest in collaboration led to his work with the Staatsballett Hannover in 2020, playing both of Chopin’s piano concertos with the Staatsorchester Hannover in its special production about the life of choreographer Nijinsky.

Growing up in China and living five years in Europe now, Xiaolu Zang finds experiencing different cultures to be key to artistic development, noting: “The essence of all kinds of music is to move people, to let one think, to mark the victory of humanity. The way we achieve it should not be the same, just like what Feruccio Busoni said, ‘Music is born free.’”

Xiaolu Zang, 1st prize winner

“It has been such an emotional ride and an amazing experience to be here at the 69th Maria Canals Barcelona intl. Competition! I was extremely privileged to have won the first Prize, and the audience prize… It has also been a great pleasure to work with Jove Orquestra National de Catalunya and Maestro Manel Valdivieso, and of course not to mention all the wonderful colleagues I met here… they are all fantastic pianists and musicians and we had a great time together. Huge thanks to the Maria Canals community!”

Xiaolu Zang

Prize winners; : Uladzislau Khandohi, Xiaolu Zang, Chun Lam U

Out of 169 candidates from 39 different countries, a total of 73 young pianists took part this year in the 69th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition at the Palau de la Música Catalana. The competition, the oldest of its kind in Spain, offers 80,000 euros worth in prizes in addition to thirty paid recitals and concerts for the winner and the other finalists. 

Uladzislau Khandohi, 2nd prize winner


1st Prize: Xiaolu Zang (24), Hannover

2nd Prize: Uladzislau Khandohi (22), Moscow

3rd Prize: Chun Lam U (21), Oberlin



Carlos Cebro, Yukiko Akagi, Akiko Ebi, Elisenda Fábregas, Fernando Rossano, Vestards Šimkus, Inesa Sinkevych, Marie Vermeulin, Catherine Vickers



Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya, Manel Valdivieso (Conductor)

Piano al Passatge Maria Canals

The Off Competition 

Besides its main events, the Maria Canals Competition runs a wide-ranging calendar of informative, educational, and social activities known as the “Off Competition”, which are held throughout the year, but reach their peak during these days. 

One of the best known is the “Maria Canals porta cua” initiative, by which pianos are stationed in public spaces both in Barcelona and other cities. According to Jordi Vivancos, last year a total of 150 grand pianos were made available to anyone who wished to play. 

During the competition, a grand piano will be stationed at the lobby of the Diagonal metro station and another one at the Foyer of the Palau de la Música. Pianos will also be placed at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Palau Robert, El Born Cultural Centre, Illa Diagonal and 7 Portes restaurant, among others. In line with the Maria Canals´ commitment to integration, a grand piano will be brought to the Can Brians 2 penitentiary centre on March 11th for a day of activities with the inmates. 

On March 8th, the traditional “Marathon at Plaça Reial” was held with a series of performances featuring professionals, amateurs, and music students. The date coincided with Women's Day, so this theme was present throughout the event. 

The “I can play” project, where everyone is invited to record a short video of themselves playing the piano and explain why they enjoy it, and the “It’s my turn” social program, which offers two years of music studies to children from vulnerable households, are other initiatives promoted by a competition with “rigor, effort, and hard work” as its core values, as well as bringing music practice closer to society. 

Chun Lam U, 3rd prize winner

Final round at the Palau de la musica catalana

Prize winners and Jury

Chun Lam U, Manel Valdivieso (Conductor), and Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya