A native of Wuhan, China, Sando Shia began both piano and violin lessons at an early age. She entered Beijing’s Central Conservatory when she was only 12 years old, and when she was 19, during the Cultural Revolution, she was sent into the countryside and worked in the rice fields for two years. After graduation from the conservatory, she joined the Central Ballet Company of China (Beijing) as its solo violinist and toured with the ensemble throughout China and Europe.
Shia came to the United States in 1980 at the invitation of Kent State University, where she lectured and performed. In 1981, she won the Josef Gingold Award at the Kent/Blossom Music Festival and was awarded a full scholarship for study with Jascha Heifetz at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. Heifetz described Sando as “extremely talented” and “very important to my class.”
Before joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1989 at the invitation of Sir Georg Solti, Shia held positions with both the Denver and Phoenix symphony orchestras.