Virtuoso 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 also taught violin and chamber music classes at the Luzerne Music Center and Crowden School. His students have soloed with orchestras throughout the Bay Area and participated in international programs such as the Menuhin Competition (Junior Division), Morningside Music Bridge, Bowdoin International Festival, NYO2, and Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Elbert’s career as an educator began as a teaching assistant at Oberlin, Rice University, and the USC Thornton School of Music during his studies at each school.
Elbert maintains an active performing schedule which includes chamber music, recital, and concerto engagements. His solo recital programs feature a wide variety of concert pieces, spanning the Baroque and Renaissance eras to contemporary music. Showcasing the 450-year history of violin music, this approach hearkens back to the golden age of the virtuoso violinist-composer. Recent performances include recitals at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute, Pomona College, and Colburn School for the Performing Arts. As a soloist, Elbert has appeared with the Bear Valley Music Festival, Cambrian Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, and Sacramento Symphony, often performing concertos featuring his own original cadenzas.
In his first year as a professional violinist, Elbert joined the San Francisco Ballet orchestra, where he also 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 held numerous concertmaster and guest concertmaster positions, including with the Festival Mosaic orchestra, Modesto Symphony and the Bear Valley Music Festival. As an orchestral musician, he has also participated in the music festivals of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Aspen, 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.