Born in Henan, China, Yi Zhao was offered a first violin position in the Minnesota Orchestra in June 2023. Prior to joining the Orchestra, Zhao was the assistant concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony for nine seasons. During her time in Colorado, Zhao appeared as a solo artist with major community orchestras and was frequently featured at the Englewood Arts, Walden Chamber Music Society (Salida) and Epic (Colorado Springs) Series. She is now looking forward to sharing her passion for music in the Twin Cities community.
For the past six summers, Zhao has been regularly performing at the Grand Teton Music Festival, taking on various leadership roles as well as chamber music concerts. The Festival Orchestra is comprised of musicians from top orchestras around the world, and Zhao is now proud to represent the Minnesota Orchestra among its ranks. In 2022, she was invited by Manfred Honeck to join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s summer European tour and performed at major festivals across Europe, including the Salzburg Festival. Prior to her invitation to the Tetons, Zhao and her colleagues, Coleman Itzkoff and Andrew Staupe, were invited to the 2014 La Jolla Music Festival as the Pegasus Trio. There she has shared the stage with many world-renown artists such as Cho-Liang Lin, Yefim Bronfman, Inon Barnatan, Alex Kerr, Desmond Hoebig, Richard O’Neill, Leonard Slatkin and the Miro Quartet. In addition, she has performed with Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carerras at the Sun Festival in Singapore and in concert series with Michael Kannen at the Weil Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and the Peabody Institute of Music. In the summer of 2023, in addition to a solo feature with the Colorado Symphony, Zhao performed as the concertmaster at the Sunriver Music Festival in Bend, Oregon.
Zhao received her bachelor of music under the tutelage of Qian Zhou at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in 2007 and earned her master’s under the guidance of Cho-Liang Lin at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in 2013. During these times she was also a fellow at both the Tanglewood Music Center and Music Academy of the West, and worked with other renowned pedagogues such as Pamela Frank, Emmanuel Ax, Glenn Dicterow, Jorja Fleezanis and Kathleen Winkler. Zhao performs on a 2019 Collin Gallahue violin.