Virtuoso violinist Elbert Tsai leads a multifaceted career as a recitalist and sought-after pedagogue. His recital programs consist primarily of short showpieces and melodies, spanning the Baroque and Renaissance eras to contemporary music, and often include a chamber music work or an original transcription. Showcasing the 450-year history of great violin music, this approach hearkens back to the golden age of the virtuoso violinist-composer. His recent performances include recitals throughout California at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute, YES Foundation for the Arts, Throckmorton Theatre, Scripps College, Le Petit Trianon Theatre, and Colburn School for the Performing Arts. As a soloist, Elbert has appeared with the Bear Valley Music Festival, Oakland Opera Theater, National Repertory Orchestra, and Sacramento Symphony, often performing concertos featuring his own original cadenzas.
Before embarking on a solo and chamber music career, Elbert performed as an orchestral musician. In his first year as a professional, 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 and touring renowned concert halls in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Elbert also performed for several seasons with the San Francisco Opera and the Pacific Symphony in Orange County. He has held numerous concertmaster and guest concertmaster positions, including with the Festival Mosaic orchestra, Modesto Symphony and, most recently, the Bear Valley Music Festival. As an orchestral musician, he has also participated in the music festivals of Aspen, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Festival Mosaic, and the Tanglewood Music Center.
Elbert began his career as a teacher and educator by serving as a teaching assistant at Oberlin, Rice University, and the USC Thornton School of Music during his studies at each school. Since 2010, he has taught violin and chamber music as a faculty member of Center Stage Strings, and, for three years served in the same capacity at the Luzerne Music Center. As a guest artist, he has taught masterclasses at the University of Michigan School of Music and San Francisco Conservatory. In the Fall of 2017, he will join the violin faculty of the SFCM Pre-College Division. Elbert also teaches violin and chamber music classes at the Crowden School in Berkeley and maintains a thriving private studio in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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.