Shek Wan Li


Photo by Matt Dine


Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, 2021–22; Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, 2021–22; Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, 2019–22; Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, 2019–22

What is your earliest memory of classical music?

My grandfather played the violin when I was 3 years old. It was the first time I was introduced to classical music.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?

When I was 15, I decided to switch from violin to viola. That’s when I realized I really love playing music. And so I decided to pursue music as a career when I got admitted to the New England Conservatory.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Marcus Thompson. He was my viola teacher at NEC.

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most?

Beethoven. For now. 

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it?

I do not have a preference on which piece is my favorite. But depending on different settings, I would prefer one over another.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician?

Performing on stage

Favorite non-classical musician or band

K-pop star IU

If you could play another instrument, what would it be?


If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

I would love to open my own restaurant.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why?

Bartók, because I would love to ask him how he would finish his viola concerto. Beethoven, because I would love to ask him why he didn’t compose a viola concerto. Uncle Roger, because I would love to see him roasting Bartók and Beethoven about their viola concerto.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us

I love fishing and mountain biking.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician

Be humble and practice scales!