AUSTIN, TEXAS – March 10, 2017 – Inspired by vintage recordings of strings giants Pablo Casals, Jascha Heifetz, Isaac Stern and more, Grammy-nominated cellist Bion Tsang presents eighteen virtuoso miniatures for cello and piano on Bion Tsang: The Blue Rock Sessions, now available on iTunes and Amazon.com, a culmination of Tsang’s lifelong fascination with the violin repertoire and the musicality and intimacy of miniature compositions such as Tchaikovsky’s “Melodié in E Flat” and Giovanni Sgambati’s “Serenata Napoletana.”
Tsang’s career began at age 11 when he made his solo debut with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. He grew up with an ear for the virtuoso style that marked a “golden age” of string playing shaped by Casals, Heifeitz, Gregor Piatigorsky and others. Throughout his career, Tsang has polished showpieces and old chestnuts for encores including Antonín Dvořák’s “Humoresque” and Aram Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance.”
Recorded with pianist Cecilia Lo-Chien Kao at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas, Bion Tsang: The Blue Rock Sessions opens with “Humoresque,” followed by Gluck Melodie, and Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Swan before venturing into Falla’s Suite Populaire Espagnole and three works of Tchaikovsky. Rachmaninoff, Sgambati and Chopin lead to the triumphant finale, “Figaro,” a Concert-Rhapsodie on Rossini's "Barber of Seville” (Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco), arranged by Tsang from a Heifetz score. Filmmaker Sam Roden directed videos for every performance on The Blue Rock Sessions, including a live action short film with animation for “Figaro” starring two of Tsang’s children in a tale of sibling rivalry.
In liner notes for The Blue Rock Sessions, musician and radio host David Beck of Seattle, Wa., observes: “For a collection that so perfectly captures cello playing at the highest level, The Blue Rock Sessions contains very few pieces written originally for the instrument. Cellists have always had to be creative when it comes to finding pieces to play,” calling Tsang’s collection a “treasure trove of musical memories, interpretive insights, peerless pedagogy and deeply satisfying music making.”
Bion Tsang: The Blue Rock Sessions was made possible by support from the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts.
Recognized as one of the outstanding instrumentalists of his generation, cellist Bion Tsang counts among his honors an Avery Fisher Career Grant, an MEF Career Grant and the Bronze Medal in the IX International Tchaikovsky Competition. He earned a 2010 Grammy nomination for his performance on the PBS special A Company of Voices: Conspirare in Concert (Harmonia Mundi). He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Harvard) and Master of Musical Arts (Yale). At home in Austin, Texas, Tsang 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.