Since 2011, the members of Women of Note (WON) have served as goodwill ambassadors for the Colorado Symphony, encouraging individuals and organizations to attend concerts, shining a spotlight on the women of the orchestra, and providing financial support to the region’s premier performing arts organization. Each year, WON honors one of the orchestra’s female musicians whose talent and commitment to the CSA have contributed to its success by raising funds which are applied to her salary. This year’s honoree is Assistant Concertmaster and Musician Trustee, Yi Zhao.
Ms. Zhao joined the Colorado Symphony as the Assistant Concertmaster in July of 2014. She is an active chamber musician and her experience ranges from performing with Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carerras at the Sun Festival in Singapore to concert series at Carnegie Hall and the Peabody Institute with Michael Kannen.
Zhao received her Bachelor of Music under the tutelage of Qian Zhou at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore in 2007 and earned her Master’s under the guidance of Cho-Liang Lin at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University in May 2013. During these times she was also a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and Music Academy of the West, and worked with other renowned pedagogues such as Pamela Frank, Emmanuel Ax, Glenn Dicterow, Jorja Fleezanis, and Kathleen Winkler.
Since joining the Symphony, Zhao has taken active roles to enrich the musical culture of Colorado. She has appeared as a solo artist with major community orchestras such as Lakewood, Broomfield, and Littleton Symphony Orchestras, and is a frequently featured chamber musician at the Englewood Arts, Walden Chamber Music Society (Salida), and Epic (Colorado Springs) Series.
During summertime Zhao performs at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyoming. The Festival Orchestra is comprised of musicians from top orchestras around the world, and Zhao is proud to represent the Colorado Symphony. Prior to her summers in the Tetons, Zhao and her colleagues, Coleman Itzkoff and Andrew Staupe, the Pegasus Trio, were invited to the 2014 La Jolla Music Festival. There she has shared the stage with many world-renown artists such as Cho-Liang Lin, Yefim Bronfman, Inon Barnatan, Alex Kerr, Desmond Hoebig, Richard O’Neill, Leonard Slatkin, and the Miró Quartet.
“I recently became a mother and just like every mother out there, balancing work and motherhood is never easy.”
Yi Zhao, Colorado Symphony Assistant Concertmaster
“I recently became a mother and just like every mother out there, balancing work and motherhood is never easy,” said Zhao. “I feel deeply that musicians are even more unique in this role. Finding time to practice, in order to come back to work seems like an impossible task. Not to mention other physical challenges of being a mother while still avoiding injury that comes from honing my craft on the violin.”
“However, while I’m problem solving my way through many difficulties, I appreciate that I have concerts to perform and audiences who come to listen,” she added. “Becoming a parent has provided a new perspective on the value of being able to share our music, and I feel more joy than ever that I am doing something meaningful for both my family and our community. I am very honored to have the support of Women of Note and am looking forward to connecting with everyone in this group to share our stories and grow our support for more outstanding women musicians in the Colorado Symphony.”
“Women of Note is proud to have Yi Zhao as this season’s honoree,” said Nancy Accetta, Chairwoman. “Yi’s commitment to her craft, contributions to the orchestra, and impact on the community perfectly embody the values we seek to uphold through our group of goodwill ambassadors. We look forward to hearing great work from Yi and her CSA colleagues as they continue their 2021/22 Season and have tremendous anticipation for an exciting future for the organization.”
Past Women of Note honorees include Myroslava Bartels (Violin), Susan Rockey Bowles (Cello), Courtney Hershey Bress (Principal Harp), Susan Cahill (Double Bass), Margaret Hoeppner (Cello), Yumi Hwang-Williams (Concertmaster, Violin), Carolyn Kunicki (Horn), Judith McIntire (Cello, Fixed 3rd Chair), and Cathy Peterson (Assistant Principal Flute).