By Ella Onuoha, Staff Writer
October 26, 2023
Ouachita regularly holds awe-inspiring musical performances, showcasing a variety of talent from guests, students and professors from a variety of instrument disciplines. To shine the spotlight on a dear professor of music, Dr. Lei Cai’s skill will be the focus of his faculty piano recital on Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in McBeth Recital Hall.
Cai has been teaching at Ouachita for more than 20 years. With his experience so evident in his method of teaching, his students recognize him as an artist with inspiring passion for the instrument.
Cai has been playing the piano since he was five and living in his birthplace of Shanghai, China. At the age of six, he began to attend the prestigious Shanghai Conservatory of Music. This respected institutional training in music lasted for 16 years. Impressively, he received the Shanghai Conservatory Scholarship for five consecutive years while he was a student.
Cai has performed in several countries, but he moved to the United States in 1992, and in 2001, he decided to make Ouachita home. Here, he helps students find or rediscover a heart for piano.
“I fell out of love with music, and it became a chore,” Jenna Barnes, a senior music industry major, said. “But, Dr. Cai made me remember why I loved it so much, and I love it even more now than I ever have.”
Similarly, junior Acrél Lee recalls memories as Cai’s student with deep appreciation for his skill and teaching style.
“My studies with Dr. Cai are some of my fondest memories,” Lee said. “He’s a master at his craft and a wonderful teacher. The fact that I’ve been able to study under a world class pianist is a huge privilege.”
It will also be a privilege to hear his fingers hit the keys during the recital, regardless of your major, because of his talent that will be on display and his effort to tailor some elements of the performance to a universal appreciation.
“You don’t have to be a music major to enjoy this concert,” Cai said. “Because it a day before Halloween, I’m going to perform ‘Dance of the Dead.’”
Cai’s recital will also feature guest performers, including Dr. Ryan Lewis, associate professor of percussion.
To his piano students, simply hearing his name brings a smile to their faces, and watching him perform will be a special moment for them. Cai hopes that the performance will bring smiles to the faces of all members in the audience, no matter their level of interest in music.
For more information on this performance and future music performances, contact Dr. Caroline Taylor, Dean of the School of Performing Arts, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 870-245-5139.