Dara Wenjia Li, from Plano, Texas, graduated as valedictorian of Plano West Senior High and is currently studying music and biology at Harvard. She started learning piano at age six, the violin at age nine, and has been composing for thirteen years. Her symphonic piece entitled Bosque del Apache was performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra in 2014. Her composition Shangri-La was performed by the ASO in 2016. Dara is a student composer with the Harvard New Music Initiative and has studied composition with Dr. Osnat Netzer, Dr. Chaya Czernowin, Dr. Robert Kyr, and Dr. Carl van Wyk. She is also an MTNA national finalist, four time TMTA original composition contest winner, ten time Texas PTA Reflections Contest Award of Excellence winner, first place winner of the 2015 Dallas Museum of Arts Young Masters Competition, and has had her score on display at the DMA twice. She was awarded the $20,000 Excellence in AP Arts and Music Theory Award Scholarship from the O’Donnell foundation.
Dara is also a passionate scientific researcher. She is a two-time Intel International Science Fair winner and was awarded the NASA, U.S. Navy, Sigma Xi, and Ricoh International research awards. She was also honored by the MIT Lincoln Laboratories with a minor planet named after her. She spends her free time working as an EMT with the Harvard Crimson EMS and as a tutor with the Harvard Student Agencies.