Sando Shia entered Beijing’s Central Conservatory when she was only 12 years old; 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.”

Why did you choose your instrument?

When I was 4 years old, I started studying piano with my father. After a year, when I saw my older sister playing the violin, I asked to play it also. So from age 5 to 12, I played both instruments. Then my father recommended that I seriously study violin only and play the piano just for fun.

Offstage, I like to:

One of the things I enjoy is taking photographs. It allows me to capture wonderful moments. I like to take a camera with me everywhere. Some of my favorite subjects to photograph are CSO family events, spring flowers, children and dogs, and anything else I find interesting.

Describe an unforgettable musical moment (as a performer or as a listener) you had as a young musician?

In 1979, after the Cultural Revolution had ended and China opened the gate, Isaac Stern came to China. In Beijing, he gave open rehearsals, master classes and performances of Brahms’ Violin Concerto with the Central Philharmonic of China. This was my first time hearing him in live performance. It was fantastic.

What work are you most looking forward to performing this season, and why?

I am looking forward to Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, which we are playing in December. I have a very fond memory of performing this piece in London with Maestro Solti during my first CSO tour in September 1989.

Favorite food or meal:

Chinese and Italian cuisine.


HOMETOWN: Wuhan, China.


EDUCATION: Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China; Jascha Heifetz Class at University of Southern California.

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