Alum Qiang Tu still considers Mason Gross "like family"

Qiang TuFor Music alum Qiang Tu, the cello is more than just a musical instrument.  The cello has helped Tu move beyond humble beginnings in China to a position of international prominence as a member of the New York Philharmonic.

Tu says that when his father, principal cellist of the China Broadcasting Symphony, returned from two years of work on a farm during the Cultural Revolution, “He felt that my sister and I were not getting a good education, so he taught us to play the cello.”

As a teenager, Tu performed as a soloist with one of China’s major symphony orchestras, won England’s Menuhin Prize as a member of the China Youth String Quartet and Sydney’s Parlings Award for Music. Tu has performed as principal cellist of the China Youth Symphony and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra.

Tu, who earned a Master’s of Music at the Mason Gross School, says his training under Mason Gross faculty members helped him to achieve excellence.

“I loved and enjoyed coming [to Mason Gross],” Tu says. “The staff and faculty supported me. Mason Gross was like family.”

Years later, Tu says, “Mason Gross is still part of my life. I received so much support as a student from Mason Gross. In life, we receive and we need to give. This is how we can make the country grow, and this is how we can make Mason Gross grow.”

Tu follows his own advice: He consistently supports the Mason Gross Music Department Fund.

“As a student, the wife of the Chair of the Music Department told me that Mason Gross does not receive enough support from its alumni,” Tu recalls. “At that moment I decided if one day I could give to Mason Gross, I would.”