David Li AM: Philanthropist for the Arts and Education

Successful business leader, philanthropist and outstanding advocate of the arts, David Li AM  was earlier this year appointed the coveted role of Chairman of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. This follows last year’s award of Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his outstanding services to the performing arts.

In this article, The Asian Executive is pleased to provide a summary of his career highlights.

Exemplary Australian Migrant

David Li stands out as an exemplary Australian migrant by the scale of his achievements in international business and generosity in philanthropy towards the arts and education. He has acted as an extraordinary cultural ambassador between East and West.

He has helped change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and humanity at large through the saving grace of music, arts, education and international cultural exchanges.

He represents the best of what an Australian can aspire to be and achieve in one’s lifetime. Mr Li’s contribution and efforts have been roundly endorsed within both Australian and Chinese government circles, the arts, education and mainstream communities generally.

David Li
David Li AM with wife, Angela Li

Early Beginnings in Australia

During the mid-eighties, David Li arrived in Australia as a student from Shanghai under the auspices of two prestigious scholarships, the Australia China Council Award (sponsored by the Australian government) having being nominated by the late Professor John Hopkins AM OBE, Dr. Victor Chang AC (eminent cardiologist) and granted by Professor Wang Gung Wu AO (who was Chair of the China Council). He also received the BP Scholarship from the Victoria College of the Arts – a faculty of the University of Melbourne. He completed his post-graduate study under the world famous violin virtuoso, the late Nelli Shikolnikova. Following a stellar career in music, he entered the business sector as a new and stellar phase of his life.

A Successful Business Leader

Over the ensuring decades that followed, Mr Li’s business has grown to the extent it is now a major building material distributor and manufacturer in Australia. Mr Li’s business also involves property development and commercial investment.

Outstanding Services to the Arts and Education

Mr Li has served as a leader in bringing Australia and the world together through the universal language of music, arts and education and has been a passionate exponent for philanthropic pursuits in general.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Mr Li is the incumbent Deputy Chairman of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO), one of the world’s leading orchestras and through him has pioneered a new strategic direction for this organisation. Mr Li founded the East Meets West series of concerts which artfully blends Eastern and Western musical influences and traditions. These artistic programs, includes its annual Chinese New Year concert whose noble objective it is to build cultural understanding between Australia and China. Recently, MSO won the prestigious 2019 AusCham Westpac “ Australia-China Business Award”. This award acknowledges the MSO’s excellence and innovation in forging meaningful connections and partnerships with China.

The Hon. Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria further stated, “As the only Lunar Chinese New Year program of its kind in Australia, this concert is recognized as an outstanding showcase of the MSO and one of the leading Lunar New Year celebrations outside of China.

His Excellency, Mr Cheng Jingye, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Commonwealth of Australia stated, “MSO’s Lunar New Year concert shines the spotlight on China and Australia’s shared love of musical traditions, through a beautiful blend of Chinese melodies and western masterworks.”

Sophie Galaise, Managing Director of the MSO recently reported that MSO Lunar New Year concert was broadcast directly into China and global through CCTV, Phoenix TV, Foxtel arts and UNITEL to attract an annual viewing audience of over 200 million people.

Mr Li has been a board director and significant patron of MSO since 2013. He has provided invaluable support in terms of ensuring the success of MSO’s China tours and to achieve the formalization of the Strategy Collaboration and Partner Agreement with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, The National Centre for Performing Arts Beijing and Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra.

Monash University

David Li is a Council Member of the Monash University Philanthropy Campaign Council and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Monash University in 2018. Mr Li signed a Gift Agreement in 2017 with the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music School of Monash University to
create the David Li Music Award for the bachelor degree in music and East Meets West Music Scholarship for Master of Arts.

Monash University has placed high value on Mr Li’s boundless energy, enthusiasm and general assistance in helping to attain its broad objectives of providing a world-class facility at Monash.

The broader opportunities afforded by Mr Li’s initiatives has been a spur to other long-term partnerships and cross-cultural relationships with China and Asia.

Opera Australia

For the past three years, David Li has made an exceptional contribution towards Australia’s national opera company, Opera Australia. Mr Li acknowledged the importance of the Opera Australia to the cultural life of Australia and has consistently contributed the funds towards it.

In 2016, Mr Li made a generous donation to Opera Australia. In particular, supporting Opera Australia’s Young Artists Program which was a superb example of philanthropy impacting a national platform.

He has also made significant contribution towards the Opera Australia production of Tosca and Faust as its Production Partner and Sponsor.

On the Opening Night of Opera Australia’s Tosca of Melbourne’s 2018 season, Mr David Mortimer AO, Chairman of Opera Australia delivered well-deserved accolades to David Li as Production Partner and Sponsor. He stated “David Li’s personal story as an immigrant to this country represents an inspiring story for all. He is blessed with both a musical background and a substantial business concern. He is an example of what our immigration population can do for Australia and is something we can be proud.”

3 MBS Fine Music Radio Corporation

In 2017 Mr Li was appointed as a Board Member of 3MBS Fine Music Radio Corporation in recognition of his decade of support and financial contributions.The appointment draws on his connections in the music industry both internationally and domestically and strategic skills in enhancing the profile and standing of

this public broadcasting station for quality music. Mr Li recognizes the importance of radio to promote quality music and the radio station’s not-for-profit mandate, which needs to be nurtured and fostered for the present and future generations to enjoy.

For further information about David Li AM, please click here.

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