Opera star returns to DU

When Hao Jiang Tian came to DU in 1984, he knew so little English, he first had to take classes at DU’sEnglish Language Center (ELC). On Oct. 18 he will return to campus as an author and opera star.

His book, My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met (Wiley, 2008), highlights how as a young boy in Beijing he worked in a factory, then came to the U.S., graduated from the Lamont School of Music, and now performs at the Metropolitan Opera House and all over the world.

“Denver is an important part of my life journey,” Tian says. “When I arrived I only spoke a few English words. The eight years I spent in Denver were unforgettable and a turning point for me.”

Tian will host a conversation and performance in Hamilton Recital Hall at the Newman Center Oct. 18 at 4 p.m. The event is sold out, but afterward there will be a reception and book signing at 5 p.m. in Room 130 at the Newman Center, where attendees may purchase Tian’s book.

Tian’s success is an inspiration to students and staff at the English Language Center.

“It’s immensely gratifying for the ELC to know that Tian was able to use the language and study skills learned with us to complete his graduate degree at the Lamont School of Music and then go on to become so successful on an international stage,” says Nancy Storer, ELC’s interim director.

Lamont Director Joe Docksey says the school takes great pleasure in Tian and all their alumni who achieve so much.

“I have followed his career so he knows the immense pride we have in his accomplishments,” Docksey says. “Of course, I have told him how much I enjoyed reading his book and learning about his very interesting journey from Mao to the Met. I had no idea of his complex background when he was actually attending Lamont.”

Tian says he believes his book will help Westerners understand the change China’s gone through, not just his transformation.

“People will understand why music is so important for our generation from China,” Tian says. “And, also why today there are so many Chinese artists, from painters to poets. The book tells a story beyond my journey.”

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