Han Zheng was born in Guangdong Shantou, China, where he was raised in a home often filled with the sounds of classical music. His father, Goumin, was a professional violinist who performed with local ensembles. He became Zheng’s first music teacher.
Zheng’s father saw promise in his young son and sent him to Guangzhou, China, at age 12 to study music with violinist Dong He of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra. At 14, Zheng entered the Guangzhou Conservatory of Music, where he took up the viola simply because the school needed a violist. He later continued his viola studies at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 1988, Zheng enrolled in the Central Conservatory of Music in the former Inner City of Beijing.
While a student at the conservatory, Zheng was appointed Principal Viola of the China Youth Symphony Orchestra. He performed with the orchestra throughout China, as well as in Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It was with the youth symphony that Zheng made his solo debut. In 1992, he joined the China National Symphony Orchestra, which was sanctioned by the Ministry of Culture as the nation’s primary symphony orchestra.
In 1997, Zheng came to the United States to further his music career. The following year, he entered the Music Conservatory at Roosevelt University’s College of Performing Arts in Chicago. Soon after, Zheng auditioned for and won the position of Principal Viola with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. In the 1999-2000 season, Zheng began substituting with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. When a viola position with the DSO opened up, Zheng auditioned and won the seat in September 2001. He and his wife, Xuan Yang, a flutist he met in Beijing, moved to Detroit shortly after Zheng won the DSO audition. In his spare time, he enjoys home decorating, gardening and spending time with his wife and son, Caleb.