Concert Preview

ATX Classical Austin, TX September 10, 2012

It was Bion Tsang’s debut with the Austin Symphony Orchestra in Dvořák’s Cello Concerto last season that earned him the 2012 Austin Critic’s Table Award for Outstanding Symphonic Performance.

Luke Quinton at the Statesman wrote that his interpretation “kept the crowd on the edge of its seat” and Robert Faires at the Chronicle poetically envisioned Tsang swashing and buckling his way through the work “like a great actor playing Cyrano de Bergerac.”

This Friday, Tsang will be in the spotlight again as he celebrates his first ten years with the Butler School of Music in a special chamber concert at Bates Recital Hall.

“I wanted to kick off my next ten years here by collaborating with as many of my Butler School of Music colleagues as possible,” Tsang writes in an email to ATXclassical. “Chamber music is such a vital component of my performing career outside of Austin. It’s often difficult to coordinate schedules with my BSOM colleagues to perform together on campus. With such happy feelings about teaching and living in Austin, I was determined to make it work.”

It is perhaps a fitting tribute to celebrate ten years of teaching during this year’s National Arts Education Week (Sept. 9-15). Tsang stresses the importance of performing artists teaching a future generation of musicians.

“Performing classical music is an aural craft and physical endeavor that, much like sports, can’t be taught by reading a manual or watching a video,” he writes. “If we performers want keep our art alive, we must continue the tradition of passing down hands-on what we know to the next generation. The great performing musicians that I admired the most growing up—historical figures such as Pablo Casals, Gregor Piatigorsky, Jascha Heifetz and Leonard Bernstein—were also important educators and pedagogues.”

Classical music is alive and well in Austin, and Tsang thinks the strong presence of students and faculty might have something to do with this.

“Maybe I’m biased,” he writes, “but I like to think that the UT Butler School of Music has something to do with the vibrancy of the Austin classical music scene. I feel blessed to be part of such a collection of talent. And we have such generous, proactive contributors within the local community who help the university and BSOM attract and retain such talent in Austin.”

This Friday’s concert features works by Bach, Boccherini, Mozart, Novacek, Schubert, Vaughan Williams and Villa-Lobos. The concert also will be webcast live via the Butler School of Music website.

By Marc van Bree

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