Young violin soloist who loves to play and play 

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Twelve-year-old violin soloist Christian Li… “His ability to communicate through music is absolutely incredible,” says Stephanie Neeman.

Canberra Youth Orchestra is pulling out all the stops with a concert that features 12-year-old violin soloist sensation Christian Li, reports arts editor HELEN MUSA. 

CANBERRA Youth Orchestra is pulling out all the stops with a concert jointly conducted by Rowan Harvey-Martin and Max McBride that features 12-year-old violin soloist Christian Li playing the Bruch “Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor” with it.

The youngest ever winner of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition in Geneva last year, he is a rising star on the music scene, having also won first prize in the violin category of the Young Artist Semper Music International Competition in Italy during 2017 and was later selected to perform at Carnegie Hall in the American Protégé Showcase 10-year anniversary concert.

Christian, who began learning the violin at the age of five and first entered an eisteddfod at age six, has studied since age seven under Robin Wilson at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne, made his solo debut at the age of nine with the Australian Orchestra and his professional solo concerto debut at 10, performing the Mendelssohn violin concerto with Orchestra Victoria.

Violinist Christian Li.

After sharing the first-place honours in the junior finals in the Menuhin competition with Chloe Chua from Singapore, he travelled to the UK to perform concerts at the Gower Festival, the Harrogate International Festival and the Cheltenham Music Festival.

From the outset, Christian says, he has enjoyed playing in front of people and that while he observes a punishing schedule of four to five hours a day practising, for him the secret is to actually enjoy playing the violin – for himself.

By phone from Melbourne Robin Wilson said: “Christian is passionate about the violin and passionate about music, everything he brings to it comes from a personal volition to play – he’s not being forced – actually it’s not possible to play at his level if you don’t love it.

“Occasionally he’s a bit nervous, which is absolutely normal but he really enjoys performing in front of an audience, for him it’s a big part of his music to share it with others on the concert platform.”

Wilson says Christian has only just learnt the Bruch concerto and has played it once in Melbourne.

“I think he brings a youthful, passionate virtuosity to the work and a great sense of celebration in the Hungarian last movement, it’s exciting,” he says.

Describing him as “a lively, happy kind of personality,” Wilson says Christian enjoys meeting people and having new experiences, especially through travelling.

Retiring CEO and artistic director for Music For Canberra Stephanie Neeman says: “It’s important for young people to be inspired by musicianship like Christian’s and not just be able to be technically proficient. 

“His ability to communicate through music is absolutely incredible.

“We did not simply invite him because he was young and brilliant but because his understanding of music-making is admirable.”

The orchestra, which has enjoyed a busy year collaborating with groups such as the James McCusker Orchestra, the Canberra Choral Society and at the ANU School of Music, will also perform Delius’ “Walk to the Paradise Garden”, Enescu’s “Romanian Rhapsody No. 2” and Holst’s “The Perfect Fool” in what will be its final concert for the year.

Canberra Youth Orchestra with Christian Li, Llewellyn Hall, Saturday, December 7. Book at



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Helen Musa
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