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Monday, March 06, 2006


Cellist Tad Lietz: Incredible Story of Overcoming Challenges

Last night's performance of the Fox Valley Youth Symphony at the Performing Arts Center featured a cello solo by Thaddeus (Tad) Lietz, a senior at Appleton East High School. If you heard a recording of Tad's beautiful performance of Gabriel Fauré's Elegy (Op. 24), you would never know that Tad holds his bow with his foot, compensating for a missing arm.

Tad's life is an amazing story of overcoming incredible odds. He was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and adopted in 1990 by some of Appleton's finest, Jeff and Mary Lietz. He was missing an arm, severely malnourished, weighing only 16 pounds at age 3 and unable to hear or walk at that time. After getting much-needed help and nourishment, his parents soon noticed that he had a love of music, for he was drawn to the speakers when music from the radio was playing. The young child would sway to the music.

Tad began studying cello in fourth grade, developing the use of his leg instead of an arm for bowing. It amazes me that he can do this and play so well. He's received national attention for his accomplishment and has served as a national patient representative for Shriners Hospitals. He plans to continue with the cello for a career.

Congratulations to Tad Lietz, a great example not just to all of us here in Appleton but to many others as well.

(In the photo, Gary Wolfman is directing the Youth Symphony. Click to enlarge.)
Did Tad Leitz always play with a rebuilt backward cello? Does he now? Does he or anyone have a 1/2 "backward" student cello? We are looking for one as the our son has a left hand difference and the teacher recommends a backward cello. Can anybody help? Thank you.
The cello and the bow are normal. I just play it backward. I do not suggest switching the strings or changing the cello. email or post a comment on my website if you have further questions.
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