Chinese violist Diyang Mei leaves his Munich Philharmonic Orchestra role to take the top viola job, while Vineta Sareika-Völkner and Christa-Maria Stangorra join the violin sections


Diyang Mei © Simon Weir

Diyang Mei takes up the principal viola role at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, in a move marking the first appointment of a Chinese musician to the ensemble.

27-year-old Mei has been principal viola with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra since autumn 2019. He succeeds Máté Szűcs, who left the BPO at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Born in Hunan in 1994, Mei first began to learn the violin before switching to the viola at the age of ten. He studied at the Central Conservatory in Beijing with Shaowu Wang and at the University of Music and Theatre in Munich with Hariolf Schlichtig, as well as further studies with acclaimed violist Nobuko Imai at the Kronberg Academy.

Mei has enjoyed impressive competition success, most recently at the ARD International Music Competition in 2018, winning first prize in the viola category, the audience prize and several special prizes. He was awarded first prizes at numerous competitions, including the 52nd International Instrumental Competition for Viola in Markneukirchen in 2017, the International Max Rostal Music Competition for Viola in Berlin in 2015, as well as at the Kulturkreis Gasteig Musikpreis for Strings in Munich, among others.

He is supported by both the Yu Art Foundation in China and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and is also a Yehudi Menuhin LMN e.V. scholarship holder. His Giovanni Pistucci instrument from 1890 was provided to him by the Florian Leonhard Fine Violins.

Two violin positions have also been awarded to Vineta Sareika-Völkner and Christa-Maria Stangorra. Sareika-Völkner is a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2009 and a former principal concertmaster of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as a previous member of the Artemis Quartet. She teaches chamber music at the University of the Arts, Berlin and the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium.

26-year-old German-Latvian violinist Stangorra pursued her violin studies in London, Hamburg, Sion and Florence before undertaking a masters degree at the University of Music ’Hanns Eisler’ in Berlin with Ning Feng. She became a Karajan Academy scholarship holder in 2021. She performs on a 1823 Giovanni Francesco Pressenda violin, on loan from the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben.

image (22)

Left: Vineta Sareika-Völkner

Right: Christa-Maria Stangorra © KK Wong