Violinist Elbert Tsai leads a multifaceted career as a soloist, chamber musician, and sought-after pedagogue. He currently serves on the violin faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College as well as Center Stage Strings Summer Institute held at the University of Michigan. Guest faculty appointments include the Oberlin Conservatory and SFCM Collegiate Division, and he has taught violin and chamber music classes at the Luzerne Music Center and Crowden School. His students have competed at the Menuhin Competition and been accepted to Music@Menlo, NYO, NYO2, Tanglewood, the Bowdoin Festival, and Morningside Music Bridge. They have soloed with orchestras throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and won first place in virtually every regional competition including the Pacific Musical Society, the SFCM/Parnassus Concerto Competition, the Diablo Valley Concerto Competition, KAMSA, USIMC, and the United States Open Competition. Elbert’s career as an educator began we he served as a teaching assistant during his studies at Oberlin, Rice University, and the USC Thornton School of Music.
Elbert maintains an active performing schedule which includes chamber music, recital, and concerto engagements. Recent recitals include performances at the Colburn School for the Performing Arts, the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute, and historic Bridges Hall at Pomona College. As a soloist, Elbert has appeared with the Bear Valley Music Festival, the Cambrian Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the Sacramento Symphony, often performing concertos featuring his own original cadenzas. Chamber music concerts include appearances at Festival Rolland, the Santa Cruz Chamber Players, Old First Concerts, and the Pleasanton Chamber Players.
In his first year as a professional violinist, Elbert joined the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, where he served as Assistant Principal Second Violin for two seasons. He would later win a position with the San Francisco Symphony, sharing the stage with many of the world’s greatest conductors and soloists, touring to concert halls throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Elbert also performed for several seasons with the San Francisco Opera, and Pacific Symphony in Orange County. He has held numerous concertmaster and guest concertmaster positions, including with the Festival Mozaic Orchestra, the Modesto Symphony, and the Bear Valley Music Festival. He previously participated in the music festivals of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center.
Originally from the Bay Area, Elbert holds degrees from the University of Southern California, Rice University, and Oberlin College, where he majored in violin and computer science and completed a minor in piano performance. His principal teachers and musical mentors include Robert Lipsett, Paul Kantor, Greg Fulkerson, Ken Goldsmith, Anne Crowden, Joel Smirnoff, and Paul Katz.
Elbert is fortunate to perform on an outstanding violin made by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, the “ex-Sophie Hummler.” He owns several bows, his current favorite being an octagonal Voirin mounted with gold and tortoiseshell.