CMU’s Orchestra Just Found Its Perfect Fit for Concert Master

Love for the violin and a passion for music made Fei Tong, a Beijing graduate student, the perfect fit for the position of concert master on Central Michigan University’s orchestra.

Tong’s love for music started at a young age when she took notice of her mother’s musical passion. Seemingly, she made the decision to take up violin and continued to play because of the instrument’s ability to move and capture an audience. She feels connected. Like the instrument is a part of her, and she a part of the instrument.

“The violin makes me calm and comfortable, and if I’m in trouble or sad, I play and I think to myself that the world is still beautiful,” Tong said. “The sound of the violin is very beautiful as well – it’s like a bird. Among all instruments, the violin is the closest to the human voice and when I play, I feel like I am singing.”

While in Belgium for a music festival, she realized the difference between cultures and their music – the passion.

Compared to her home country of China, Tong believes that Americans and Europeans are more passionate about the music and instruments they play.

“The conductor here has more patience and the students are more passionate,” Tong said. “The students sing the songs we play all the time and practice the music all the time. In China, everything was by yourself and no one liked to sing and play music together for practice.”

Since joining the CMU orchestra, she has implemented her special touch into violin bowing and technical skills with her extensive background of music and foreign roots.

Kayla Green, a member of the orchestra and violinist, also believes in the power and influence of orchestral music.

“I feel like music is all about having a sense of the bigger world and knowing how to interact with people everywhere,” Green said. “She has been able to study internationally. I think teaching styles in China are different and it gives [our violin section] exposure to different ways of learning and her demeanor makes her a comfort to play with.”

The conductor of the CMU orchestra, Jose Maurtua, has been trying to make orchestra concerts more appealing to students wanting a cultured musical experience. He tries to incorporate traditional pieces, such as J.S. Bach, while adding flavor with compositions from around the world.

Adding Tong to his team seemed like a natural fit.

“Fei adds confidence to the violin section and to the orchestra,” Maurtua said. “She is an excellent violinist, her presence conveys trust, which is a must for any musician in a leadership position.”

Tong may spend all her time split between teaching students, copying music sheets, her five hour daily practice, English and concert pieces, but amidst her busy schedule, she finds just an ounce of time to chat with her mother everyday – the inspiration of her love for music.