Tony Zhai started learning the violin at the age of six, taking lessons from a local music school in Beijing, China. Being his first instrument, he immediately fell in love with the sound that the violin was able to make in the hands of his teacher. His family decided to move to New Zealand when he was eight and he continued his studies at a new music school. He became engaged with the orchestra program at his new music school and loved the wonderful sounds that only a group of musicians playing in harmony could make.
Tony studied a Bachelor of Music at Sydney Conservatorium with professor Ole Böhn, achieving First Class Honours, while writing his research thesis on the little-known Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff.
Tony completed his Master of Music at HMT in Rostock, where Prof. Hempel taught. During his time in Germany, he took part in the fellowship program at the Hamburg Symphony under the direction of the late Jeffery Tate. Tony has played with the Hamburger Symphoniker and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and has been a finalist in the Kendall National Violin Competition.
Tony moved to Melbourne in 2018 to join Orchestra Victoria. He continues to be drawn to the artistically vibrant and culturally diverse community which he now calls home.
In his spare time, he keeps apprised of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence research, as well as exploring some of the hiking routes around Victoria.