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Cleveland Institute of Music

The Cleveland Institute of Music

11021 East Blvd.
Cleveland Ohio 44106
Phone : 216-789-7725
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photo credit: Robert Muller, Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Si-Yan Darren Li

Cellist Si-Yan Darren Li made his professional debut at the age of nine and has gone on to an active career as recitalist, chamber musician, and teacher. He has appeared at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, the 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 received top prizes in numerous prestigious competitions, including the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. He was also a recipient of the “American Masterpieces” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Mr. Li has appeared in solo and chamber music performances in many renowned music festivals, including the Ravinia Festival, the Kronberg Academy Cello Festival, and the 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, Paul Katz and Carter Brey.


Mr. Li began his cello studies at the age of five in China. At the age of nine, he was accepted to the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. 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 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. Mr. Li’s other mentors include Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffman, Ralph Kirshbaum and Tsutsumi Tsuyoshi. From 2008 to 2009, he served as principal cello of the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. In 2009, Mr. Li joined the award-winning Euclid Quartet, a position he held for seven years. As a member of the quartet, his recording of the Bartók String Quartets was highly praised by Gramophone magazine and the American Recording Guide. Having previously taught at Indiana University-South Bend and the University of Central Florida, Mr. Li joined the award-winning Cavani Quartet and the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2017. For many years, he has served as a jury member of the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the New World Symphony International Auditions. Mr. Li plays a 1773 cello by G. B. Guadagnini, generously on loan from the private collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rin Kei-Mei.