Eric Zheng, a Bienen School saxophone student of Taimur Sullivan, was named a winner in the 2019 Yamaha Young Performing Artist Competition (YYPA). 

The YYPA Competition recognizes outstanding young musicians studying in the United States who excel in jazz, classical, and contemporary genres. Each applicant submitted an audio/video audition and support materials, which were evaluated by an expert panel of Yamaha Performing Artists and national celebrity musicians. Winners of the competition demonstrated superior technical skill and artistry, according to the YYPA press release. 

Zheng is currently in his fourth year at Northwestern in the dual-degree Bienen-Weinberg program, majoring in saxophone performance and economics. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, he made his solo debut with the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra at age 16 and was the 2nd place recipient of the 2018 Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition. He has performed in masterclasses for renowned artists such as Clifford Leaman, Lars Mlekusch, Jérôme Laran, Zach Shemon, and Stephen Page. In the summer of 2018, Zheng performed internationally at the Cortona Saxophone Sessions in Cortona, Italy and at the 18th World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia. 

As the alto chair of the Zula quartet, Zheng was selected to compete in the semi-finals of the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) Quartet Competition in March 2018. He has also performed with the Northwestern University Saxophone Ensemble, which played Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint at the NASA 2018 conference. Zheng was the runner-up in the 2018 Northwestern Concerto/Aria Competition Wind Ensemble Division.

The 2019 Yamaha Young Performing Artists will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the YYPA Celebration Weekend in June. The event will allow the young artists to perform in front of thousands, receive national press coverage, and participate in workshops designed to launch a professional music career. The 2019 winners will also receive services and support from Yamaha Artist Relations. The weekend will culminate at the annual YYPA concert on Monday, June 24, in Emens Auditorium at Ball State University.

For more information and to see the full list of 2019 YYPA winners, visit https://yamaha.io/YYPA.


  • woodwinds
  • Taimur Sullivan