Zhenni Li-Cohen

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Music Dept


Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Music Dept



Zhenni Li-Cohen’s riveting presence and passionate performances have brought audiences to their feet around the world. Hailed for her “torrents of voluptuous sound...Li impresses as an artist of tremendous conviction, who fascinates even as she provokes“ by Gramophone Magazine, “a thrillingly good pianist” by The New Yorker and for her "...big, gorgeous tone and a mesmerizing touch" by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ms. Li-Cohen has performed in such notable venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and WQXR’s Greene Space in New York, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Performing Arts Center, Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Museum, San Jose’s California Theater, the Helsinki Music Center in Finland, the Grieghallen in Norway and the Berliner Philharmonie in Germany.

Upcoming engagements include concerto appearances with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the National Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, the Fairbanks, Johns Hopkins, Bucks County, Lower Merion, University of Alberta and Knoxville Symphony Orchestras, and recitals in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Alaska, South Carolina, and Rhode Island. In adition to her solo career, Ms. Li-Cohen is a deeply devoted chamber musician. She has collaborated with members of the Aeolus, Borromeo, Jasper, Hugo Wolf, and New Orford quartets and has performed at numerous chamber music festivals including Classical Bridge, Fontainebleu Festival, Kneisel Hall, Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, and Ravinia's Steans Music Institute. 

Earning worldwide recognition as the winner of the 2017 New York Concert Artists Worldwide Debut Audition, Astral's Artist's 2016 National Auditions and the Grieg International Competition in Norway. She is appointed as Associate Professor at University of Alberta and her performances have been broadcast internationally on Canada National CBC Radio, Chicago’s WFMT Public Radio, Iowa Public Radio, New York’s WQXR, Norwegian National Radio: NPK P2/NPK Klassisk, Philadelphia’s WWFM and WRTI, Texas Public Radio, and West Virginia’s WVTF.

In her spare time, she enjoys learning jazz and new languages, looking forward to becoming pentalingual, traveling and meeting people of different cultures.

Zhenni Li-Cohen is a Steinway Artist.



She is deeply in debt to her Ukranian teacher Sergei Mikulic for finding the freedom to express herself musically for the first time, after her father took charge of her music education at age seven, learning the piano himself in the process. When she was accepted to study at the Juilliard School, earning Bachelors and Masters degrees in piano performance, she spent her summers in France, working with Ginette Gaubert who directly inherited the French tradition from Ravel through Perlemuter, which led to a great love and appreciation for French music, particularly that of Claude Debussy, whose Préludes were eventually the subject of her dissertation. After further studies through Artist Diploma at Yale School of Music, she completed her Doctoral degree at McGill University in Montréal and began concertizing in earnest. She is immensely grateful to be able to count among her artistic influences many incredible teachers and mentors, including Peter Frankl, Richard Goode, Joseph Kalichstein, Stéphane Lemelin, Seymour Lipkin, Robert McDonald, Mark Salman, Craig Sheppard, and Vera Wilson.

CD Recording Projects:

Deeply committed to the art of recording, Ms. Li-Cohen is passionate about memorializing lesser known works and sharing them with a greater audience as well as traversing the heights of familiar giants of the repertoire. Fresh off the heels of her critically acclaimed debut album Mélancolie, she is currently working on three different recording projects with the Steinway & Sons label. In Une Lettre/One Letter/Ein Brief, she delves into the music of Sergei Bortkiewicz, a Ukrainian/Polish composer-pianist of the late 19th century whose life was constantly plagued by the horrors of war. Legends of the Phoenix Queen came about from Ms. Li-Cohen’s desire to reconnect with her musical heritage, exploring traditional and contemporary Chinese works inspired by folk songs, stories and historic instruments. In Beethoven’s Apotheosis, the great master’s final piano sonata is juxtaposed with the iconic “Hammerklavier” sonata and 32 Variations.

Album Releases:

Steinway & Sons Label: ”Beethoven’s Apotheosis” - Solo works by Beethoven Releasing 2025

New Leaf Label "Dialogue" - Duo album with cello and piano sonatas by Rachminoff and Rebecca Clarke 2024

Steinway & Sons Label: “Legends of the Phoenix Queen” - Solo works by Chinese contemporary composers Releasing 2024

Steinway & Sons Label: ”One letter/Une lettre/Ein Brief” - Solo works by Ukrainian composer Sergei Bortkiewicz Releasing 2023 (received acclaim from Gramophone Magazine and others)

Steinway & Sons Label: ”Mélancolie” - Solo works by Lourié, Bartók and Schumann Released 2018 (received acclaim from Gramophone Magazine and others)


Opus 71 Concerts - Multi-media Chamber Music Series, New York, NY    2022
Co-founder and Artistic Director
- a multimedia concert series near New York's Lincoln Center.

Fishin' in C - Chamber Music Series, Philadelphia, PA     2018-2022
Co-founder and Artistic Director
- a diverse chamber concert series in Philadelphia with the aim of bringing music to underserved areas.

Language Skills:
Fluent in English, Chinese, French; Italian Reading/Writing