Christian Li, violinist

Who or what inspired you to take up the violin, and pursue a career in music? 

I started the violin at the age of five after beginning piano lessons and felt I took to the violin more naturally, and it was more fun for me! I loved the way I could make a singing sound and it gave me a new way to express myself.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career? 

My instrumental teachers have helped me to learn and develop both my technique and love of music. I’m very grateful to have had their help!

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

The Menuhin Competition in 2018 was a big challenge that took many months of hard work to prepare for. It was also a challenge to keep the required repertoire ready to play, but it was so exciting to meet other young violinists and to get to perform with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. I feel very lucky to have had this experience. Recording my first two tracks for Decca Classics has been a great experience, but you have to be really well-prepared as the microphone picks up everything! It’s important that you play your best on the day.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of? 

I was very happy when my first track, ‘The Dance of the Goblins’, was released and I’m just as excited to share my newest single ‘The Harvest Song of the Fisherman’ with everyone. It celebrates my Chinese heritage and is a really beautiful arrangement. I really enjoyed playing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Myer Music Bowl in front of a big crowd of 12,000 people. It was very exciting, and not scary!

Which particular pieces do you think you play best or which do you enjoy playing the most?

I love to play slower, more expressive pieces that explore emotions. That’s what I love most about the violin – its ability to express different emotions.

How do you pick which music to play? 

I choose them with my teacher, who advises on things that are not only great pieces of music but also good for my development. It’s a balance between favourites of mine and more challenging works that help improve my musicianship.

Which concert venue would you most like to perform in? 

London’s Royal Albert Hall! It would be exciting to play there!

Who are your favourite musicians? 

I am inspired by lots of other violinists. Maxim Vengerov is my ultimate hero, but I also like listening to older generation violinists like David Oistrakh. He has such an expressive, warm sound that I really love.

What would you like your music career to look like when you are older? 

I’d love to travel and play exciting music with orchestras around the world. Being able to play chamber music with other musicians sounds like great fun.

What advice would you give to other young musicians? 

Keep working hard and, most of all, enjoy the music you are playing!

 

‘Fisherman’s Harvest Song’ is released on 22 May by Decca Classics. Christian will release further tracks throughout 2020, to be announced soon.


Like many other 12-year-old boys, Christian enjoys swimming, football and reading, and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle of his home in Melbourne. But quite unlike most pre-teens, Christian’s gift for the violin surpasses that of even the most skilled soloist.

Born in Melbourne in 2007, Christian first picked up a violin aged five. He came to international attention in 2018 when he became the youngest-ever winner of the Menuhin Competition, winning the joint Junior 1st Prize in Geneva, aged only ten. Christian performed a movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with a professional orchestra, play-conducting from the violin. The video of his performance has since achieved millions of views on YouTube.

With a dream to be a touring soloist with the world’s greatest orchestras, Christian enjoys a pre-concert banana to keep his energy levels up, and finds any nerves disappear once he steps out onto the stage. He enjoys listening to movie soundtracks by composer John Williams, watching sci-fi films about space exploration and reading the Harry Potter series. Christian also speaks Mandarin, which he practises at home with his parents.

At the age of nine, Christian won First Prize in the violin category of the Young Artist Semper Music International Competition in Italy and gave many solo and chamber music performances as part of the Semper Music International Festival and Summer Academy. He also performed at Carnegie Hall in New York in the American Protégé Showcase 10th Anniversary concert. In 2014 he won First Prize in the “Golden Beijing” violin competition in China and in 2013, aged just five, Christian was chosen for a TV commercial in China that features him playing the violin.

Christian studies with Dr Robin Wilson, Head of Violin at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne and plays on a rare 3/4 size violin made by Dom Nicolo Amati in 1733, on generous loan from Reuning & Son Violins Boston, and a rare 19th century bow made by Pierre Simon, on loan from Florian Leonard Fine Violins, London.

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