Bion Tsang profiled in Austin Monthly magazine.

Austin Monthly Austin, TX January 2011

Master Class


At an age when most kids learn to ride bikes, Bion Tsang picked up a cello. He was only 7 years old, but it didn't take long for him and his teachers to discover his incredible talent with the instrument. Tsang entered Juilliard at the ripe age of 8 and remained there for nine years. After attending Harvard University, where he studied musicology and composition, Tsang realized he was meant to perform music rather than write it. "When I perform, I want to capture the essence of music and evoke a response from the audience," he says. "Classical music isn't always pretty; sometimes it's angry, nasty and dramatic."

In 2002, Tsang made the move from New York City to Austin to become the professor of cello at the Butler School of Music at UT. He now teaches his students to "make a musical instrument illustrate what is in your mind, heart and soul." That's something that the professor can speak of with firsthand knowledge, as it earned him a 2010 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Crossover album for his work with Austin's choral group Conspirare. "The award ended up going to Yo-Yo Ma, but just being nominated for something so prestigious was a great honor in itself," he says.

When he's not instructing younger generations in classical music or playing frequent on-campus concerts, Tsang travels the world to perform everywhere from Chicago to Hong Kong and beyond. "I want my students to see the fruits of our labors through performance," he explains, though he's quick to add that teaching comes first. "The biggest reward is to see my students grow in their love for the music and to watch their development."

By Heather Calvillo

Available in hard print in Vol. 18, No. 1 (January 2011, Talk: Creative, pp. 40-41)