Cellist Bion Tsang
Cellist Bion Tsang is internationally recognized as one of the outstanding instrumentalists of his generation: among his many honors are an Avery Fisher Career Grant, an MEF Career Grant and the Bronze Medal in the IX International Tchaikovsky Competition. Mr. Tsang earned a 2010 Grammy nomination for his performance on the 2009 PBS special A Company of Voices: Conspirare in Concert(Harmonia Mundi).
Mr. Tsang has appeared as soloist with such orchestras as the New York, Moscow and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestras, the National, American, Pacific, Delaware and Atlanta Symphony Orchestras, the Saint Paul and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestras, the Louisville Orchestra and the Taiwan National Orchestra. Recent highlights include making his solo debuts at Orchestra Hall in Chicago with Zubin Mehta and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and at the Esplanade in Boston with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra. He also gave the U.S. premiere of the Enescu Symphonie Concertante, Op. 8 with the American Symphony Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall and the U.S. premiere of Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger Concerto for Cello Solo and Chamber Orchestra at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall. Tsang makes his Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra debut this season.
As a chamber musician, Mr. Tsang has collaborated with such artists as violinists Pamela Frank, Jaime Laredo, Cho-Liang Lin, Anne Akiko Meyers, Kyoko Takezawa and Chee Yun, violist Michael Tree, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Gary Karr and pianist Leon Fleisher. He has been a frequent guest artist of the Boston Chamber Music Society, Brooklyn Chamber Music Society, Chamber Music International of Dallas, Fort Worth Chamber Music Society, Da Camera of Houston, Camerata Pacifica of Los Angeles and Bargemusic in New York and performed at such festivals as Marlboro Music Festival, the Cape Cod, Tucson, Portland and Seattle Chamber Music Festivals, the Bard Festival, Bravo! Colorado, Music in the Vineyards and the Laurel Festival of the Arts, where he served as Artistic Director for ten years.
Mr. Tsang’s discography includes the 2010 release from Artek Recordings, Bion Tsang and Anton Nel: Live in Concert, Brahms Cello Sonatas and Four Hungarian Dances, featuring original transcriptions of Joseph Joachim’s violin arrangements of Brahms’ iconic Hungarian melodies. His discography also includes the Kodaly works for solo cello as well as a forthcoming set of the complete Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello recorded on the 1713 “Bass of Spain” Stradivarius. He has performed all six Bach Suites in one sitting first in Austin and later in Seattle at Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall. In addition, Mr. Tsang has toured the complete Beethoven works for cello and piano with pianist Anton Nel in, among other venues, the new Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall and Jordan Hall in Boston, with the latter performance recorded and commercially released on the Artek label.
A versatile collaborator, Mr. Tsang was featured on the soundtrack to Recapturing Cuba: An Artist’s Journey, a PBS documentary by Trinity Films, winning two Gold Medals—Director’s Choice and Artistic Excellence—at the Park City Film Music Festival, coincident to the Sundance Film Festival. He was a featured guest artist on the KLRU-TV and PBS television production, A Company of Voices: Conspirare in Concert, filmed in Dell Hall at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, and aired nationally on PBS stations during their March 2009 pledge drives. Tsang has also been featured on KLRU-TV’s In Context recorded in the Austin City Limits studio, the first time classical musicians appeared in that space. A frequent collaborator with the Hong Kong City Contemporary Dance Company, he has performed solo cello onstage alongside the dancers in productions of There, After…(Kodaly Op. 8 Solo Sonata) and Plaza X (Bach Solo Suites).
Mr. Tsang made his professional debut at age eleven in two concerts with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic. That same year he returned to perform two more concerts with Maestro Mehta and the Philharmonic. One of these performances was broadcast worldwide on the CBS Festival of Lively Arts television series. While still in his teens, he became the youngest cellist ever to receive a Gregor Piatigorsky Memorial Prize and the youngest recipient ever of an Artists International Award. He was also chosen as a Finalist of the NFAA’s Arts Recognition and Talent Search and subsequently as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. At age nineteen, Tsang became the youngest cellist to win a prize in the VIII International Tchaikovsky Competition. He has been featured on America Online as CultureFinder’s “Star Find of the Week,” on the Internet Cello Society as “Artist of the Month,” and most recently in print in the book 21st-Century Cellists.
Born in Michigan of Chinese parents, Bion Tsang began piano studies at age six and cello at age seven. The following year, he entered The Juilliard School. Tsang received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University and his Master of Musical Arts degree from Yale University, where he studied with Aldo Parisot. His other principal cello teachers have included Ardyth Alton, Luis Garcia-Renart, William Pleeth, Channing Robbins, and Leonard Rose.
Mr. Tsang resides in Austin, TX where he is Division Head of Strings and holds the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long Chair in Cello at the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin. He was the recipient of the Texas Exes Teaching Award after just his first year of service and in 2004-05 was named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by the Austin Critics Table. In 2005-06 he was also visiting professor at Indiana University in Bloomington. In his spare time, Bion helps his family run the Paul J. Tsang Foundation, a nonprofit organization named in honor of Bion’s father and formed to help facilitate educational or career opportunities for promising students and professionals in the arts and sciences. He also enjoys coaching and, especially, trying to keep up with the various adventures and endeavors of his three children: Bailey, Henry and Maia.
Mr. Tsang plays on a Wayne Burak workbench series cello made in April 2011.