Li-Kuo Chang is adjunct professor of music in viola at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He is also acting principal viola of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), appointed by Riccardo Muti in 2017. Chang was appointed assistant principal viola of the CSO by Georg Solti in 1988.
As a soloist, Chang has performed with the CSO on several occasions, most recently, with Pinchas Zukerman in Bach’s Sixth Brandenburg Concerto.
As a chamber musician, Chang has collaborated with many renowned artists, such as Zukerman, Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma, Christoph Eschenbach, Nicolaj Szepe-Znaider, Julia Fischer, Alisa Weilerstein, and Kirill Gerstein, among others.
Performance venues include the Lucerne, Jerusalem, and Ravinia festivals as well as the Symphony Center in Chicago, Staatsoper Berlin, and numerous concert halls in Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China.
By invitation of Barenboim, Chang was guest principal viola for the Staatsoper Berlin and Staatskapelle Berlin from 2000 to 2007 on several of their European and Asian tours, including Wagner’s complete Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle in Japan.
An educator for more than 30 years, Chang has been on the artist faculty at several music institutes, including the Chicago College of the Performing Arts, Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, Peabody Institute, and Affinis Summer Festival in Japan.
Many of his students have won auditions, including principal positions, with orchestras around the world, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, St. Louis, London, Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong, among others.
He started his early music training on piano under the guidance of his pianist mother, who was a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London and a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
Chang switched to violin study after attending a concert by legendary Soviet violinist David Oistrakh and gave his public solo debut at the Shanghai Spring Music Festival at age 11.
Chang became a violist when he formed his own string quartet while a student at the music high school of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
After winning the 1978 Young Artist Competition in Shanghai as the first-ever violist in China to win such a competition, he came to the U.S. with full scholarship offers from The Julliard School, New England Conservatory, and Eastman School of Music.
Chang pursued his formal viola study with Francis Tursi at Eastman, Milton Thomas and Donald McInnes at the Music Academy of the West as a young artist fellow, and privately with Paul Doktor and William Magers. He also played for William Primrose at his master class.
Chang has owned and performed on a rare 1768 Parma period G. B. Guadagnini viola, known as the ex-Vieuxtemps, for more than 20 years. He currently plays on a 1774 Turin period G. B. Guadagnini viola owned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
He lives with his wife, Maggie, and son, Daniel, in Chicago’s Lakeview East.