Cello

Relationship: Im/migrant
Me, with my first cello and my Father. The back piece of my cello was made from my bed.
Me, with my first cello and my Father. The back piece of my cello was made from my bed.

My father was principal cellist of the China Broadcasting Symphony. During the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to a farm to labor for two years. When he returned, he felt that my sister and I had not received a sufficient education. My father began teaching both of us the cello when I was about seven. He not only taught us how to play, but made multiple cellos for us in different sizes. The back piece of my very first cello—a half-size—was made from a piece of wood from our bed. 

I left China for the first time at age 17, traveling to England to compete with my string quartet. My cello at that time had also been made by my father. I used that same cello when I went to study at the Sydney Conservatorium in 1983 – my first extended stay away from home. I was homesick and experienced cultural shock. 
 In 1987, I decided to study at UC-Santa Barbara on a scholarship for my masters. At that time people were only allowed to take $30 US dollars out of the country.  I was unsure of how much I could do with my cello in the US, but I knew I would have more opportunities here for a professional music career. 

After a year and a half in Santa Barbara I transferred to Rutgers to study with Bernhard Greenhouse. In 1995, I joined the New York Philharmonic as its first Chinese-born member. 

Place(s): China, New York
Year: 1987

– Qiang Tu

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant