Studies: With Dr Robin Wilson at ANAM
Likes: Travel, astronomy, animals, particularly cats
Dislikes: Aeroplane food, saying goodbye to friends
How did you feel when you became the youngest winner of the Junior First Prize at the Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition?
It was a great surprise because I never expected to win with so many great young violinists there. I felt excited because I worked so hard for it, and so it was time to enjoy it!
How did you cope with the media coverage?
After winning the Menuhin competition, my teacher and parents tried to reduce the media interviews, because I was still young. But at the same time they know I do need to face the media as it’s an important part of a career. I was nervous at the beginning, but now I am gradually getting used to it.
Do you come from a musical family?
Mum and Dad are not musicians. But I was told my music genes are inherited from my grandfather.
How old were you when you began playing the violin, and why?
I was five. I started violin initially as a hobby, having one lesson per week. I took to it very quickly, and the teacher said I’m naturally gifted with the instrument. And I really enjoyed playing in front of people from a young age, so I continued and became more serious!
Do you study violin at school?
I’ve learned violin with private teachers. I have been studying with Dr Robin Wilson at the Australian National Academy of Music for the past four years.
How much do you practise?
When I first started, I practised half an hour per day. But in recent years the pieces have gotten harder and longer and I’ve also had to prepare for competition and concerts. So I normally practise four or five hour per day.
How old were you when you started playing at music competitions?
I first entered an eisteddfod when I was six.
Do you get nervous?
I do get a bit nervous before I get on to the stage, but when I start playing I am not. Being a little bit nervous is normal and actually good as it helps me to focus and play better. I always eat a banana before I go on stage too – this helps!
When did you start playing professionally?
In 2018 I made my professional solo concerto debut at 10, performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Orchestra Victoria.
You talked on radio about the visual images in your mind when you played Vivaldi’s Summer (which you will perform with the SSO in October) in the Menuhin final. Do you often imagine things when you play?
Yes I do, when I am practising there is always a story or a picture in my mind. My teacher Dr Robin Wilson always tells me the background of the music beforehand, so it’s easier for me to create my own imagery in my mind.
Do you enjoy other things as well as music?
I enjoy swimming, and long distance running, which I do almost weekly when I’m not travelling. I also like to read books such as the Harry Potter series, and comics too.
What will you perform in this month’s Next Generation Baroque concert with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra?
I’ll be playing one of my favourite Baroque pieces, Handel-Halvorsen’s Passacaglia with Concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen. It’s really fun to play a duet together! I’m also looking forward to playing for the first time in City Recital Hall, and experiencing its beautiful aesthetics.
What would be your dream career?
My dream is to become a professional soloist, to travel and play with musicians and orchestras in different parts of the world.
Any advice for aspiring young musicians?
If you believe in your abilities, find a good teacher, work hard and don’t give up. Then your dream will eventually come true. And the most important thing is you should really enjoy playing music on the violin for yourself, rather than practising for someone else.
Christian Li plays with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra at City Recital Hall, September 11 – 20, and Melbourne Recital Centre, September 21 – 22