The Li Foundation Scholarship

The Li Foundation was incorporated and founded in 1944 by the late Dr. K. C. Li, the founder of Wah Chang Corporation, and his four brothers to promote friendly relations between the United States and China. Educational exchange was deemed the vehicle for achieving this objective, and over the years the Foundation has assisted needy promising students in the United States. Since 1991 the Li Foundation has provided generous grants to OCAW for their fellowship program for talented artists. OCAW continues to work with the Li Foundation in realizing mutual goals.

Li Foundation Scholarship recipients:

Zheng Cao, Mezzo Soprano
Haibo Bai, Soprano
Haiye Ni, Cellist
Ding Gao, Bass-Baritone
Hong-fa Chu, Tenor
Sun Yu, Bass, Baritone
Guang Yang, Mezzo-Soprano
Yong Ma, Flutist

Zheng Cao, Mezzo Soprano
Born in Shanghai, studied at the Shanghai Conservatory and the Curtis Institute of Music. Her many awards include First Prize, Metropolitan Regional Competition, First Prize, Bel Canto Competition, Second Prize, Annapolis Competition and Winner in the Palm Beach Opera International Competition. She has won high critical acclaim in her roles as Suzuki in Madam Butterfly, Nicklausse in Les Contes D’Hoffman, Rosina in Il Barbiere Di Siviglia, Cherubino in Le Nozze Di Figaro, the title role in Carmen and Mastris in Xerxes. The many opera companies she has performed with include: San Francisco Opera, Opera de Lyon, New York City Opera, Opera International, Los Angeles Opera and Michigan Opera. She performed at the Olympics in Japan and has performed extensively and has been well received as a recitalist. An Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera Center and a Li Foundation Scholar, she debuted in 1992 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Haibo Bai, Soprano

Born in Liaoning Province, China is a graduate of the Tianjin Conservatory of Music. After winning First Prize in the National Competition in China, she was selected by the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music where she received her Artist Diploma. A recipient of the Li Foundation Fellowship Award and the Teresa Ma Award, she has concertized in Germany, Italy, Canada and throughout the United States and China. In 1993 she made her debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She has won critical acclaim for her leading roles in Le Nozze Di Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte, La Boheme, Madam Butterfly, Tosca, Il Tabarro and Falstaff. Described by Opera News as “singing impressively with emotional power and acting skill”, and by the Washington Post as delivering a “touching and musically rapturous performance”. She has won high critical acclaim in her concert performances and was well received in her concert tours in China in 1998 and 2001 where she was able to contribute her skills to teach and conduct Master Classes.

Haiye Ni, Cellist
Born in Shanghai, China, has studied at the Juilliard School of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory and the Shanghai Conservatory. She was the youngest winner of the International Naumburg Foundation Competition. Among her many awards: First Prize, San Francisco Symphony Competition, Grand Prize, American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition, First Prize, Robert Mondavi Music Achievement Awards Competition, Grand Prize, Grace Vamos Cello Competition. Today, she continues to win many prestigious International Competitions throughout the world. She has been on the cover of Strings Magazine as one of the most outstanding cellists today. She is profiled in the book “21st Century CELLISTS” and now is the youngest Chinese woman to hold the position as Associate Principal Cellist of the New York Philharmonic. She held a three-year contract as a member the the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center program for young artists, and performed at the Casals Festival in France, the Ravinia Festival at the Santa Fe Music Festival and was guest artist of the III World Cello Congress along with Yo-Yo Ma.

Ding Gao, Bass-Baritone
Born in Shanghai, graduate of the Yale University Opera Department and the Shanghai Conservatory, was the winner of the Gold Medal and First Prize in the 4th Enrico Caruso International Voice Competition and a winner of the Sillivan Foundation Competition. He has performed with New York City Opera as Escamillo in CARMEN, Colline in LA BOHEME with Opera International and on the NYCO Tour, the Speaker in DIE ZAUBERFLOTE with Austin Lyric Opera, Silva in Ernani with Sarasota Opera, Monterone in Rigoetto with Michigan Opera and New York City Opera, Timur in Turandot with Teatro Lirico D’Europa, Don Basilio in Il Barbiere Di Siviglia with Opera International and the Nyco Tour and Nilakantha in Lakme with Seattle Opera. He has performed extensively in concerts with symphonies in Handel’s Messiah, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Verdi’s Messa Da Requiem.

Hong-fa Chu, Tenor
Born in Tianjin, China, is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory. He was the recipient of the Peabody Conservatory Special Merit Scholarship, the Maryland State Scholarship and the Li Foundation Fellowship Award. He performed the leading role of Ruggero in Puccini’s La Rondine with the Peabody Opera Theatre. He is the tenor soloist of the Bethesda Presbyterian Church and has performed with the Washington Opera for the 1999-2000 season. He has performed as a recitalist and appeared as soloist throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area. He performed in Richmond in concert and the Virginia Times acclaimed him as “a tenor with a very handsome voice. In 2001 he performed in a concert tour in China.

Sun Yu, Bass, Baritone
Born in Anhui Province, China, graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and received his Artist Diploma at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. His numerous awards include: Young Artist Award at the 35th Concours International de Chant de la Ville in France, 2nd Prize at the Concours International de Chant de Verviers, Belgium, First Prize, Maryland Vocal Competition, Silver Medal, Japan Min-on International Music Competition, Winner of the Metropolitan Regional Competition, the Aspen Fellowship, the Peabody Fellowship, First Prize in the Wagner Competition in New York and recipient of the Li Foundation Fellowship Award. Performances include Nabucco with the San Carlo National Opera in Lisbon, Boris Gudunov with Stadt Theater in Wurzburg, Aida with Opera Bergen, Tosca with Opera International and Annapolis Opera and the Washington Opera premier of The Savage Land. He has been highly acclaimed in his concert performances and his operatic performances.

Guang Yang, Mezzo-Soprano
Born in Beijing, China, is a graduate of the Central Conservatory in Beijing, China and the Juilliard School of Music. She was crowned with the overwhelming title of “Cardiff Singer of the World” in the Cardiff Competition in the United Kingdom, First Prize in the Domingo Competition in Washington D.C., Third Prize in the First International Opera Competition in Shizuoka, Japan and Second Prize Winner in the Concours International des Chant de Paris Competition. She was the recipient of the Li Foundation Fellowship Award and was invited by Marilyn Horne to perform her first debut at Carnegie Hall for the 5th Annual Marilyn Horne Foundation Recital. She is at present at the training center of the Chicago Opera. Her velvety yet robust voice along with stylish performance has drawn close attention from famous musicians and admirers.

Yong Ma, Flutist

Born in Anhui, China, Ma Yong started his career as a flutist at age 8. He entered the prestigious Beijing Central Conservatory at age 12. While studying flute there during 1987 and 1996, Ma was the principal flutist, first of the Chinese Children’s Symphony Orchestra, and later of the Chinese Youth Symphony Orchestra. At age 13, Ma entered the ‘Spring in Prague’ International Music Competition in Yugoslavia and was a finalist.

In 1996, Ma came to the States as a visiting scholar, and later entered the Julliard School of Music in 1998, as the first student from China studying under the venerable flutist Professor Carol Wincenc, and as one of the only two to major in flute with full scholarship out of hundreds of candidates. Ma entered Julliard with an ordinary flute. Professor Carol, understanding the difference a superb instrument can make to a promising musician, got in touch with OCAW for Ma. OCAW, in recognizing Ma’s outstanding talent, generously sponsored the purchase of a Powell gold flute at $15.000.

In 1999, Ma won the Olga Kousservitzky Woodwind Competition. The next year, he won the first place at the Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair sponsored by The Flute Society of Washington. In 2002, Ma won the first place at the International Musician Competition sponsored by the New York Flute Club. He gave his debut performance in the United States at the Carnegie Hall on November 11, 2002 to much accolades from the music critiques.

Ma will graduate from Julliard in 2003, and has been offered a full scholarship to continue his study at Cincinnati School of Music. As the New York Concert Review put it after his Carnegie Hall debut: “This young flutist from China has achieved admirable feat in the unusual world of flute performance. His technique is flawless. His interpretation of the music is with total understanding.”

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