Shutong Li, born in 1990 in Ordos city, Inner Mongolia, China, grew up listening to many traditional Mongolian music and dances. With only one month's keyboard training at age of 8, Shutong decided to study piano again in spare time when he first entered college in 2008 majoring in Industrial Engineering. He soon developed a fiery passion for piano and happened to be asked to teach piano. While completing his engineering bachelor's degree, Shutong had also been teaching beginning piano for 4 years. He designed his own piano teaching method book from his original 20-page version in numbered notation to a 200-page stave version. By May of 2013, there were over 1200 students who owned this book.
Despite having been trained as an engineer, Shutong made the decision to come to the United States and study at the University of New Mexico for a bachelor's degree in music, which he completed in May of 2016. During this time, he discovered an even bigger passion for orchestral conducting and later he was admitted to the Master's conducting program of UNM in the fall of 2016. He was also selected to work with the UNM Health Sciences Center Orchestra, a joint program of the UNM music department and the school of medicine, first as the assistant conductor, and in his last year, as principal conductor. In 2017 November, Shutong was also invited to conduct the Symphony Orchestra of Albuquerque, one of the two main amateur orchestras in Albuquerque.
Ultimately Shutong became so excited by his conducting experiences that he formed his own orchestra in 2017 Summer, comprised of music students together with accomplished amateur musicians. Their first project featured two public performances of Mozart's full opera The Magic Flute in a concert setting. After The Magic Flute project, his orchestra studied and performed Mahler's First Symphony in a reduced setting. In May of 2018, their group (now under the name of “Musicians for Musicians”) collaborated with my piano professor on Mozart's Piano Concert 23, and Shutong also added 6 other concerto excerpts in the program for the orchestra musicians. By hosting two casts of the soloists, almost three-fourths of the orchestra were also soloists. In June MFM did a French Project (La Mer, Faun, Apprentice). In July MFM did the full Mozart's Marriage of Figaro in a concert style. In August MFM did a Beethoven Project (Sym#3 + Sym#9 IV). In September MFM did a reduced version of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (Albuquerque Premiere). In October MFM did Mendelssohn's Sym# 3 & 4. In November MFM did Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutte in a concert style. In mid-December MFM did Elgar's Cello Concerto and Dvorak's New World Symphony. His orchestra projects created an ambitious and exhilarating schedule for the musicians and himself, taking on a new work on the average of one per month, with two public performances for each work. Shutong was gaining additional conducting experiences to supplement his formal education at UNM, and he was embarking on an adventure to further fellow musicians in their musical exploration of the great composers’ repertoire. In 2019 spring, MFM will start an even more adventurous journey with works of Mahler's Sym#4, #9, and Songs of a Wayfarer, Rachmaninoff's Sym# 2, Mozart's Don Giovanni, the excerpts from Wagner's Ring Cycle, Pasifal, and Tristan, Beethoven's Triple and Brahms' Sym#3, and Stravinsky's Petrushka and Firebird suite.
Shutong also has built his own a library of music scores, and he plans to finish studying all the “standard” symphonic and operatic repertoires during the next two years. He hopes eventually to be admitted to a doctorate program in orchestral conducting and learn more contemporary repertoire and Chinese music. Shutong's life-long goal is to ignite a big “symphonic fire” in his home country, to promote more Chinese music to the world of music, and to serve as many musicians and audiences as possible.