Lei Hou joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1997, appointed by Daniel Barenboim. Prior to her engagement, she was accepted by the Cleveland Orchestra after winning the audition for the first violin section of the orchestra. She also has served as assistant principal second violin of the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C., for six years, appointed by Mstislav Rostropovich.
As an active chamber musician and soloist, Hou has performed with Pinchas Zukerman at the Ravinia Festival and Northwestern University’s Winter Chamber Music Festival, with Yefim Bronfman at Symphony Center and with members of the Guarneri and Alban Berg quartets at the Marlboro Festival. She also has extensively performed as leading violinist of the chamber group formed with musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and German Radio Orchestra in concert tours in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg, and she recorded chamber music of Mozart, Hoffmeister and Beethoven for German radio. As violinist of the Manchester String Quartet of Washington, D.C., for five years, she has given many concerts with the group around the country. Hou has been a featured soloist in concerts for National Public Radio, WFMT of Chicago and WBJC FM of Baltimore. In addition, she has served on the faculties of the music schools of the University of Maryland and American University. She has also served as the String Instructor for Den Nye Opera Academy in Bergen, Norway.
A native of Dalian, China, she studied at the Middle School of Music in Shanghai, China. She also attended the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Hou earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in violin performance at the Peabody Conservatory, where she was invited to study with Bert Senofsky under full scholarship. She also has studied with Earl Carlyss, former violinist of the Juilliard Quartet and with Sylvia Rosenberg. Hou was a young artist at Ravinia’s Steans Institute in 1988, and she has participated in the Tanglewood, El Paso, West Maryland and Sun Valley music festivals. Lei and her sister Qing, also a member of the CSO, recently were honored soloists at a state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao in Chicago.