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 6 and picked up the viola in public school when he was 10. At age 16, after performing the first movement of Mahler’s Second Symphony, he decided to make music his life. He studied at Northwestern University with Dr. Roland Vamos while taking orchestral repertoire classes with then CSO Principal Viola Charles Pikler. After graduating with degrees in both economics and music, Lai joined the viola section of the Colorado Symphony.
In Chicago, Lai is a frequent chamber music collaborator, playing with groups such as Civitas, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Chicago Pro Musica and with his colleagues in the CSO.
He has made recital appearances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He is an alumnus of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and 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 also is 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 plays on a contemporary viola made by Franz Kinberg. He also enjoys jazz, kickboxing, sim racing and the Chicago Cubs.