Yuan Xiong Lu: Building Bridges Through Music

YuanSince his arrival at TCU in 2008, Yuan Xiong LU has not only brought international recognition to the university’s School of Music, but he has also developed an outstanding double bass program and festival that attracts world-class artists to Fort Worth.

Yuan is a dreamer.

Born in Shanghai, Yuan displayed a real aptitude for the double bass from an early age. Sensing promise, Yuan’s parents introduced him to the principal double bassist of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

“That man taught me that the double bass’s low tone is so much like a human being’s voice,” Yuan recalls. “He really opened my ears to the double bass’s ability to sing and dance and talk and speak to all its beauty.”

In the following years, Yuan continued his musical education at prestigious institutions and received positions with professional symphonies in China and the United States. In 2008, he joined TCU tasked with one emphatic goal: to build a competitive double bass program.

lu-sidebar“I had a very positive first impression of the cultural scene in Fort Worth,” says Yuan. “There is already a wonderful piano faculty, often connected to the Cliburn piano competition. I wanted to do the same for double bass.”

Since the launch of the new program, Yuan has opened doors between TCU and China, bringing some of the most promising students from around the world to Fort Worth. Richard Gipson, director of the School of Music, believes Yuan’s reputation is a major influence.

“It’s like if an American student was thinking about enrolling in a Chinese conservatory, and there was a world-renowned American professor teaching there,” says Gipson. “Ever since Professor Lu arrived here, he has taken us down a different road toward a more prominent profile in China. And it has been a very fun ride.”

Colleagues note that there are many musicians who have plenty of musical talent, however few can do what Yuan can do: build bridges through music.

One such cross-cultural achievement is the establishment of the TCU International Double Bass Festival. The two-day event of solo recitals, clinics, lectures, orchestra competitions and master classes has evolved into one of the largest festivals for the instrument in the nation.

The festival has become so prestigious that 20 top double bass professors, plus as many as 25 guest artists – from composer Frank Proto to double bass virtuoso Gary Karr (and players from Brazil to Israel) – gladly accept Yuan’s invitation.

“I really want the double bass program to be viewed as one of the best in the country,” says Lu. “The festival has turned out to be a major way to increase awareness. For the last one, we had 200 double basses on stage. What the festival has done is help distinguish TCU as a place to come for great double bass study – and that’s fun to do.”

Read about more Doers, Dreamers and Trailblazers like Yuan at getstarted.tcu.edu.

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