Si-Yan Darren Li


Faculty, Cleveland Institute of Music

Cellist Si-Yan Darren Li made his professional debut at the age of 9 and has since gone on to an international career as a recitalist, chamber musician and teacher. He has appeared in solo and chamber music performances at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, 92nd Street Y, Kennedy Center, Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore, Izumi Hall in Osaka, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, National Concert Hall in Taipei and the Basilica de San Lorenzo in Florence. Mr. Li has also performed in many renowned music festivals, including the Ravinia Festival, Kronberg Academy Cello Festival and Verbier Festival. An active chamber musician, he has collaborated with such esteemed artists as Emanuel Ax, Alexander Toradze, Thomas Quasthoff, Cho-Liang Lin, Miriam Fried, Ilya Kaler, Carter Brey, Lang Lang and the members of the Juilliard, Cleveland, Casals and Ébène quartets.

Mr. Li is a prizewinner in numerous prestigious competitions, including the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow and Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. He is also a recipient of the American Masterpieces grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. For many years, he has served as a jury member of the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and New World Symphony International Auditions.

From 2008 to 2009, he served as principal cello of the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. Having previously taught at Indiana University and University of Central Florida, Mr. Li joined the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2017. He is a former member of the Euclid and Cavani quartets. His recording of the Bartók string quartets with the Euclid Quartet was highly praised by Gramophone magazine and American Recording Guide. As a dedicated pedagogue, his students have won top prizes in major international and national competitions, such as the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition, Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and Coltman Chamber Music Competition.

Mr. Li began his cello studies at the age of 5 in China. At the age of 9, he was accepted to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. After moving to the United States in his early teens, he continued his cello studies with Orlando Cole in Philadelphia. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School and a Master of Music and Artist Diploma from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. In addition to Orlando Cole, his principal teachers include Fred Sherry, Harvey Shapiro, Alan Stepansky and David Hardy. His other mentors include Gary Hoffman, Frans Helmerson, Ralph Kirshbaum and Tsutsumi Tsuyoshi. Mr. Li plays a 1773 cello by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, generously on loan from the private collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rin Kei-Mei.