SOST violinist Yu Zhao Gu dies during performance

 

A memorial concert is planned for Yu Zhao Gu, a beloved violinist who died from a suspected heart attack over the weekend while performing with the Symphony of Southeast Texas.

Officials with the Symphony are expected to announce a date for the memorial concert later this week.

“His was the first smile you saw when you went to rehearsal. There was always a smile on his face and he greeted people very politely,” Doug Fair, executive director of the SOST said.

Gu had played in Southeast Texas and Louisiana for about 20 years and was a member of four other orchestras besides the SOST; Lake Charles, Victoria, Galveston and Corpus Christi.

“He was a standing member, not a substitute,” he said. “And the fact he was a standing member in so many orchestras speaks to his level of talent.”

Gu’s wife, Ying Zhao, also plays the violin and sits in the seat that was next to Gu.

SOST Music Director Chelsea Tipton wrote on the loss of Gu in a Facebook post, saying, “Last night (Saturday) 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,” Tipton said.

The SOST issued a statement on the loss of Gu, saying he was a consummate musician playing violin as a regular member in as many as four other orchestras, in addition to SOST.

“He and his wife Ying, a fellow violinist, were always the first to greet their orchestra family with a smile and friendly greeting at every rehearsal. Veteran members, some of whom played with the couple for over 20 years, remembered him as a fine musician and dear friend,” the statement read.

Gu lived in Houston and no funeral plans have been announced at this time.

Gu’s sudden death came during the final concert of the season for the SOST at the Julie Rogers Theater in Beaumont.

Just minutes into the first musical piece of the night Gu fell and passed out. A group of physicians were in attendance and came to immediate aid, Fair said. The hall was cleared and the physicians continued to work on him until emergency personnel arrived. He passed away at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont.

Fellow musicians created a GoFundMe account for funeral expenses.

Condolences on the site came from musicians from across the state. Fran Koiner said she remembers the couple from the days of the Woodlands Symphony and SOST and loved how they would bring their son along to rehearsals.

“What a sad day for the music world of SE Texas. Many condolences to the family,” Koiner said in the post.

The GoFundMe account can be reached at https://www.gofundme.com/yu-zhao-gu-beloved-violinist-funeralexpenses

 

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