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 George Solti in 1988.
As a soloist, Chang has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 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 Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, Christoph Eschenbach, Nicolaj Szepe-Znaider, Julia Fischer, Alisa Weilerstein, Kirill Gerstein, to name just a few, in concerts at the Lucerne, Jerusalem, and Ravinia festivals, as well as at the Symphony Center in Chicago, Staatsoper Berlin, and many concert halls in Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.
By invitation of Daniel Barenboim, Chang was guest principal viola for the Staatsoper Berlin and Staatskapelle Berlin from 2000 to 2007 in several of their European and Asian tours, including Wagner’s complete Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle in Japan.
As an educator, Chang has been on the artist faculty at several music institutes for more than 30 years, including the Chicago College of the Performing Arts, Bienne School of Music of the Northwestern University, Peabody Institute, and Affinis Summer Festival in Japan.
He has given master classes at Indiana University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Kansas, University of Nebraska, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, and twice at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Many of his students have won auditions, including principal positions, at orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and orchestras of St. Louis, Detroit, Tokyo Metropolitan, and Singapore, among others.
Chang 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. He switched to violin study after attending a concert performance given by legendary Soviet-Russian 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 held 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 the Eastman School of Music.
He pursued his formal viola study with Francis Tursi at Eastman, with 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.
Chang lives with his wife, Maggie, and his son, Daniel, in Chicago’s Lakeview East.