Associate Professor of Music
Violinist Wen-Lei Gu has won international acclaim as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician with her passionate playing and profound musicianship. The Frankfurter Neue Presse praised her playing as “a musical sensation -- top-notch musicianship and technical perfection!” A winner of numerous prizes in national and international violin competitions, Ms. Gu was the gold medalist in China’s National Violin Competition and the Heida Hermanns International Competition, the silver medalist in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition and Ima Hogg Young Artist Competition. She made her international debut at age thirteen, performing the Saint–Saëns Violin Concerto in B minor in England with Yehudi Menuhin at the baton. Menuhin said of her playing: “sounds like a poem, looks like a painting.”
Ms. Gu has performed extensively as guest soloist with orchestras and as recitalist throughout the world, in distinguished venues such as the Berliner Philharmonie, Smetana Hall, La Sala Verdi, Beijing Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Possesing a wide range of repertoire, she has performed virtually all the major violin concertos, including the concertos of Bartok, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Elgar, Lalo, Mendelssohn, Paganini, Saint-Saens, Sibelius, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Wieniawki, etc. As a concerto soloist, Ms. Gu has collaborated with orchestras such as the Houston Symphony, the Montreal Sympony Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Beijing Central Orchestra, the Beijing Philharmonic, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, the Shenzhen Sympony Orchestra, the Hongkong Pan Aisa Symphony Ochestra, the Fox Valley Symphony, the Green Bay Civic Orchestra, and the Elkhart Symphony. In addition, her solo recitals have been frequently featured live on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Midday Show and the Sunday Afternoon Live at the Chazen, and Chicago WFMT Radio’s Live from WFMT and the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series.
Ms. Gu's performance highlights have included performing at the Bach Festival at Carnegie Hall commemorating the 250th Anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s death, appearing at the Kennedy Center for the Millennium Concert Series, performing Wieniawski Concerto No. 2 with the Houston Symphony to an audience of five thousand, and guest soloist with the China Beijing Philharmonic on their critically acclaimed concert tour of Europe, with pianist Yundi Li performing the Yellow River Piano Concerto and Ms. Gu performing the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto. Her most recent recording of the Complete Brahms Violin Sonatas with pianist Catherine Kautsky was released by Centaur Records in 2019. Phil’s Classical Reviews described the recording as showing “a remarkable rapport, a deft sense of phrasing, and a keen awareness of subtle, almost imperceptible, changes in rhythm and moods, plus unfailingly beautiful tones that serve Brahms’ three sonatas to perfection.”
Wen-Lei Gu received her Bachelor of Music in violin performance from the Juilliard School, a Master of Music from the Mannes College of Music, and a Doctor of Music degree with a major in violin performance and a minor in music theory from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she received the prestigious Presser Award for outstanding achievement in music. Her teachers include Miriam Fried, Ida Kavafian, Sally Thomas, Dorothy Delay, and Yaoji Lin. She is currently a professor of music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Ms. Gu regularly serves as a judge for music competitions, including the Chicago Symphony Young Artists Competition, the Madison Symphony Bolz Young Artist Competition, and the Hong Kong International Music Competition.
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