Riccardo Muti and the CSO Announce Appointment of Wei-Ting Kuo and Danny Lai in Viola Section
Music Director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra announce the appointments of Wei-Ting Kuo and Danny Lai as the newest members of the viola section, effective May 19, 2014.
Wei-Ting Kuo has been Assistant Principal Viola in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since 2011. A native of Taiwan, Kuo began his viola studies at the age of nine. He quickly gained recognition after winning first prize in the Taiwan Viola Competition, and he attracted critical attention as the first violist to win the first prizes in the Hsing-Tien-Gong String Competition, the Young Artist Showcase String Competition, and the National Taiwan Normal University String Competition. He attended the Taos Music Festival in 2008 and was selected as a finalist for the 2008 Primrose International Viola Competition; he also was a prizewinner at the 2009 Tokyo International Viola Competition.
Kuo graduated from National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei before earning a Master of Music degree from the Mannes College of Music in New York in 2009. He received an Artist Diploma from the Colburn School in Los Angeles in 2010. Kuo participated in the Ravinia Festival in 2009 and the Verbier Festival Academy in Switzerland in 2010. He has studied with Paul Coletti, Hsin-Yun Huang, Yizhak Schotten and Rei-Shieh Yang.
Danny Lai comes to the CSO from the viola section of the Colorado Symphony. Prior to joining the Colorado Symphony, he was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for two years (2010-2012), where he served for a season each as Assistant Principal and Principal Viola.
Lai began his musical studies with piano at age six, adding the viola at age 10. He attended Northwestern University, majoring in music and economics. He has participated in festivals around the world, including the Aspen Music Festival, Pacific Festival in Japan, Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland and the YouTube Symphony in Sydney, Australia. He is also the winner of several competitions including the Jefferson Symphony International Young Artists Competition, the Thaviu String Competition and the Luminarts Union League Strings Competition.
In addition to his orchestral career, Lai has a passion for using music for social justice and healing. He co-founded Music Heals Us, an organization that seeks to bring music to places around the world for community building, cultural dialogue and spiritual healing, while training other musicians to do the same. Its latest project brought music to refugees in the West Bank and Jordan. He plays on a modern viola made in Chicago by Stanley Kiernoziak.
Danny Lai is the 17th current member of the CSO to have been a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the CSO's preprofessional training orchestra, which celebrates its 95th anniversary during the 2013/14 season. Other current CSO members who once were members of the Civic Orchestra include violinists Kozue Funakoshi and Nancy Park; violists Diane Mues, Yukiko Ogura and Weijing Wang; cellists David Sanders and Gary Stucka, basses Mark Kraemer and Stephen Lester, flutist Louise Dixon; horns Oto Carrillo, Dan Gingrich, David Griffin and James Smelser; trombonist Jay Friedman and harpist Lynne Turner.
About the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (cso.org)
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Its music director since 2010 is Riccardo Muti, one of the preeminent conductors of our day. Pierre Boulez is the CSO's Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus; Yo-Yo Ma is the CSO's Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant. Mason Bates and Anna Clyne are the CSO's Mead Composers-in-Residence.