“Uncompromising musical character and a towering technique… In the breadth of her virtuosity and the charisma of her musical personality, Tsan made this work her own.” – (Daniel Cariaga/L.A. Times/Haydn D Major Cello Concerto)
Born in France, Cécilia Tsan began playing the cello with the same teacher as her childhood friend Yo-Yo Ma. After majoring in Philosophy and Chinese, she was accepted at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique , under André Navarra, and was awarded the 1st Prize for Cello summa cum laude and the 1st Prize for Chamber Music. She is a Prizewinner at the Barcelona International Competition, the Florence International Competition and the winner of the Debussy Prize at the Paris International Competition.
Ms. Tsan toured throughout the world not only as a soloist, but also as a chamber musician with Rudolf Firkusny, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Michel Dalberto, Jean Hubeau, Bruno Rigutto, Pascal Rogé, Pierre Amoyal, Augustin Dumay, Martin Chalifour, Hatto Beyerlé, Gérard Caussé, Heiichiro Ohyama, Edgar Meyer, etc… She has regularly performed on the radio, television and films. Since she moved to Los Angeles, she has been recording hundreds of movie soundtracks with many composers such as John Williams, James Newton-Howard, Alexandre Desplat, James Horner, Randy Newman, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, David Newman, Jerry Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri, John Debney, to name a few.
She recorded a CD (Eleven pieces for Cello and Piano) under the Cybelia label and two CDs of chamber music by Weber and Ropartz, under the Timpani label, both with pianist Jean-Louis Haguenauer, Professor in Bloomington, Indiana University.
She currently serves as Principal Cellist with the Long Beach Symphony under Eckart Preu and the Los Angeles Master Chorale under Grant Gershon, a position she previously held with New West Symphony and occasionally with the L.A. Chamber Orchestra and the Pasadena Symphony. Several composers, including jazz pianist Clare Fischer (Suite for Cello and String Orchestra) and former LBS Music Director Enrique Diemecke, have written solo pieces for her (Cadenza for Camino y Vision). As a founding member of the Pantoum Trio, she also recorded Jazz and Cocktails, a piano trio written by Gernot Wolfgang. The CD was released in July 2006, to critical acclaim.
More recently she was the soloist for several pieces for Cello & Orchestra including the Suite from Memoirs of a Geisha by John Williams, the Dvořák, Saint-Saëns and Elgar Cello Concerti, and the Brahms Double Concerto. She also performed the World Premiere Eric Tanguy’s piano trio specially written for her and published by Salabert: this premiere was recorded and broadcast by Radio-France in Paris. She gave the US Premiere of that Trio for Jacaranda in Los Angeles as well as the West Coast premiere of his 2nd Cello Concerto.
Cécilia regularly served as Principal Cello for the Oscars, the Emmys, and previously for American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and America’s Got Talent.
In April 2019, she was invited by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen to be the French narrator of Stravinsky’s Persephone at Walt Disney Concert Hall, under Peter Sellars direction.
In 2017, she co-founded the summer music series Sunday Afternoon Concerts in the Dome at the iconic Mount Wilson Observatory and became its Artistic Director, presenting chamber music and jazz concerts. The past two years, those performances have regularly been sold out.