In the Pit: Olivia Tsui

Olivia Tsui; Photo: Gary Eisenberg

Olivia Tsui; Photo: Gary Eisenberg

A proud member of the first violin section in Los Angeles Opera Orchestra for a quarter century, Olivia Tsui has been successfully pursuing her career ever since completing her violin studies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Her westward journey began in 1986, when Olivia arrived in the U.S. to continue her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, followed by USC where she studied under Alice Schönfeld. Quickly becoming active in the Los Angeles music scene, she joined the LA Opera (LAO) Orchestra in 1992, followed by appearances with other local orchestras and chamber groups.

“How can you not love the violin?” she exclaims. “It’s my first love, since my grandfather, who was the first generation to play western instruments in China, started teaching me violin when I was four years old.” Her father was a math and physics professor and an amateur violinist, while her mother was an engineer. Olivia was surprised to discover only last year that her mother had also been a college choral conductor. Finally, Olivia realized the family roots in her “two hats!”

Olivia loves the color she can create on the violin. But she also realized that the entire orchestra included a full palette of colors, and the conductor had all of these at her disposal with which to create beautiful music. She determined that she wanted to learn conducting and forged her own path of study to that end.

Click here to read Diane Eisenman’s full article about Olivia Tsui on

Diane Eisenman received a B.A. in Music Education from St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University of Chicago. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and piano instructor in Pasadena, and uses classical music in her therapy practice. An opera lover, she enjoys writing about the people who make live opera possible.

LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.
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