Electric Cellist Tina Guo Shines in Hans Zimmer Concert
My first experience attending a Hans Zimmer concert was in Vienna, Austria. It was a totally magnificent experience. When I heard he would be touring in the U.S. including Las Vegas, we immediately got tickets to see him there at the new and incredible Park Theatre. Then we heard he was coming to the Baltimore/Washington area at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, we could not resist seeing the show a third time.
When you attend a Zimmer concert, not only do you hear the amazing film scores he has written, you witness a great performer who plays the keyboards, electric guitar, accordion, and drums. He is also extremely personable. There is also a superb light show and powerful sound system.
You also notice the many talented instrumental soloists that accompany him. One individual who stands out is the electric cellist, Tina Guo. She has great stage presence, talent, and beauty.
While in Vegas at the Venetian Hotel, we met strictly by coincidence her cello teacher from San Diego Robert Gilson who basically "discovered" her talent as a 10 year old. When I heard about his former student star in the Hans Zimmer concert we had both just attended , I knew there was a story there.
Tina was born in Shangai where her father Lu-Yan Guo had been the principal cellist with the Shangai Symphony. Her family moved to San Diego where her father taught cello and mother taught violin.
Robert Gilson was the Conductor of the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra and had the pleasure of auditioning the young Guo and selected her at the young age of 10 to join the top level of the organization where she played until the age of 16. Gilson stated immediately he saw something special in the young cellist. He said "She initially played a 1/2 size cello which was the same size as she was...She was like a young Yo Yo Ma."
While in middle school she discovered electric music secretly. She loved the music of Marilyn Manson and Guns and Roses.
While still a teenager, she was driven to Los Angeles for Master Classes with cellist Eleanor Schoenfeld who had discovered her father's talent in China.
At the age of 19, she attended the music program at the University of Southern California for 2 1/2 years where she studied classical music. At the same time she was discovering the electric cello. She bought her first electric cello at a music store and started to experiment with it. She began self recording, funding, and producing music videos which she uploaded to YouTube, and performed with as many bands and musicians in different genres as possible.
Tina commented "I loved playing industrial metal music. It was my passion. I had a Yamaha and now have three."
Before you know it, people were discovering her due to YouTube. To make money, she played as a hired cellist with singers and bands, and started recording as a session musician for TV, Film, and Video Game Scores. But according to Guo, "I wanted to do my own thing and invested all my money I made from work back into my music and creating more videos and content." Her very first music video was "Queen Bee", an Industrial Metal version of "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" by Rimsky Korsakov. She added , "My parents freaked out and didn't what to think!"
A friend showed the video to Hans Zimmer and he became curious about Guo and asked her to work on his film score of "Sherlock Holmes" with Robert Downey, Jr. She was also a featured soloist on the film "Ironman 2" with composer John Debney, and began recording more and more on soundtracks. Tina was very self-sufficient in negotiating her own deals, reading articles and books on entertainment and music law and by trial and error.
A turning point was working with Cirque du Soleil performing with the Michael Jackson "The Immortal Tour" in which she was featured as a soloist. She toured around the world for two years in this arena tour production, performing over 360 shows.
Zimmer had her perform on several films like "Inception", the main theme of
"Wonder Woman" and "Batman vs. Superman".
It was in 2015 that Hans Zimmer asked her to join his three month European tour. She commented that this was certainly a highlight of her young career. She recalled how exciting it was to perform before 30,000 fans in Frankfurt, Germany.
Following that she toured with blues musician Joe Bonamassa and had two of his shows video-taped for PBS. The CD of the program made the Billboard "Blues Chart".
Guo's first CD "Game On" is online and at Barnes and Noble. It's on Sony with a full symphony, choir, and metal band.
She has recently received a Grammy Award for "Best New Age" Album called "Inner Passion" which was completely improvised.
When asked about her relationship with Zimmer, she commented that he has been like a mentor to her. He is producing her next album, a cinematic metal album coming out next spring also on Sony. She is so grateful to Zimmer. She commented, "It's a thrill and amazing to perform with him. He is so supportive and trusting. He always loves to feature all the soloists. We have a core band of about 20 and he hires an orchestra and choir at every venue. His music director Nick Glennie-Smith went to music school with him."
On the tour, Guo is a featured soloist in both the scores from "Inception" and "Pirates from the Caribbean" when she received a rousing ovation.
The night before our interview I happened to see the film "Dunkirk" for which Zimmer composed the music. I stayed for the credits and sure enough there is "Tina Guo" listed in black and white. She asked me if took a photo of it.
The U.S. tour ends August 12 with concerts in San Francisco , Los Angeles, and San Diego. You can see videos of the tour on YouTube.
It is such a pleasure to watch her perform with her electric cello. Do not miss her whenever you get the opportunity.
You can find out more about Tina at www.TinaGuo.com and www.TinaGuoStrings.com.
For a video of Guo performing visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7TJ9H80UhM.