Shock and grief as orchestra violinist, 60, drops dead in mid-concert

Shock and grief as orchestra violinist, 60, drops dead in mid-concert


norman lebrecht

April 08, 2019

During the opening work of the Symphony of Southeast Texas Orchestra’s weekend concert, a member of the violin section, Yu Zhao Gu, keeled over and died. He was playing beside his wife, Ying Zhao, his regular stand partner.

Attempts by musicians and audience members to resuscitate him were of no avail.

The conductor Chelsea Tipton posted:

Last night during our final concert of the season we, unfortunately lost a Symphony of Southeast Texas Orchestra member during our opening work on the program. He was a valued member who has played with the orchestra for many decades along with his wife, and his presence will be dearly missed. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, and EMTs who came to his immediate aid on stage. And thank you also to the musicians and choruses for your work, love and support you provided last night and throughout the entire season. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

A crowdfunding page has been set up for the family:

Yu Zhao Gu, beloved violinist, tragically passed away during our final concert of our season Saturday night doing what he loved, performing music alongside his wife, Ying Zhao. A dedicated member of the Symphony of Southeast Texas (SOST) family, Yu and Ying have been playing with the symphony for well over a decade and as regular members of the Galveston, Corpus Christi, Lake Charles, and Victoria symphonies. The first to say hello at rehearsal, Yu could always be counted on to greet you with a smile and a word of encouragement.

The passing of Yu is devastating for our orchestra and all those he has touched, as we truly are a family. We would like to come together in support of Ying to help cover these exorbitant and unexpected medical bills, funeral costs, and countless other expenses. While no amount of money will help ease this loss, we hope to at least be able to give Ying peace of mind that she is not alone and her musical family and community are here for her during her time of need.

The family had lived in the US for 20 years. Their son studies at the University of Houston.


  • Karl says:

    That’s awful. The local news station reported that it was probable heart attack. I wonder if an automated external defibrillator (AED) was available. Studies have shown that many lives could be saved if AEDs were in more places.

    • Antonia says:

      The tormenting thing for the family and orchestra would be to learn that there had been an AED available, but that the deceased was not wishing to disrupt the concert by causing a commotion and making it known he was experiencing distress, and tried to just keep playing through it, hoping the discomfort would just go away.

      This is something many of us, if not most of us, would do during a concert, right? “The show must go on”, we feel, come hell or high water.

  • John Rittin says:

    Have some respect for the deceased :

    “Dropped dead”. “Keeled over”

    Such a bad choice of Words written by a geezer ….. you are tempting fate my friend .

    • Ron says:

      Agree John Rittin. A am in this orchestra and experienced it all first hand. It was a horrible experience. NL’s wording of this story is indeed very insensitive and crass.