Danny Lai

Violist Danny Lai was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2014 by Music Director Riccardo Muti. He began his musical studies on the piano at age six and picked up the viola in public school when he was ten. After performing the first movement of Mahler’s Second Symphony at age sixteen, he decided to make music his life. He studied at Northwestern University with Dr. Roland Vamos while taking orchestral repertoire classes with Principal Violist of the CSO Charles Pikler. After graduating with degrees in both economics and music, he joined the viola section of the Colorado Symphony.

He has made recital appearances at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C featuring rising stars from the top music schools in America. He has been appointed in multiple leadership positions including principal viola in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and assistant principal in the Aspen Chamber Symphony. He has performed around the world with such orchestras as the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in Japan, the Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland, and the Youtube Symphony Orchestra 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. 

He also has a passion for using music for social justice and healing. He co-founded the organization Music Heals Us which 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. Their latest project brought music to refugees in the West Bank and Jordan.

He plays on a modern viola made in Chicago by Stanley Kiernoziak. His life also includes cars, papercraft, skiing, the Chicago Cubs and his fiancée Lauren.


Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.