Martina Mai Li Accordion

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Martina's Bio

Martina, born on the western plateau in China, began her accordion career when she was 7 years old. She studied under Dingcheng Zhang (张丁成) and went on to win the Gold Medal for Solo Accordion at China's 2002 National Competition for Young Art Talents.

Currently a lecturer of music history at Sam Houston State University, Dr. Li is a professional member of American Accordionists' Association. She has been invited for solo accordion performances to national and international events such as the masterclass concert series of American Accordionists' Association, San Antonio International Accordion Festival, and National Accordion Convention. In her spare time, Martina  performed with Austin's local world music projects including Forro de Quintal and Daniele Ruiz Tango Trio.


Prior to moving to the United States in 2008, Martina worked in cultural tourism for three years in Beijing. The years 2008-2018 were devoted to graduate study at the University of Texas at Austin where Martina obtained PhD in ethnomusicology, along with two Master's degrees in public affairs and music. Her doctoral dissertation, which is grounded upon a yearlong fieldwork in Lanzhou (northwestern China), responds to the substantial lacking of the understanding of traditional Chinese narrative music in the wake of the fast growth of popular music industry in China. By articulating the rarely-understood aesthetics and linguistic rationale behind traditional Chinese narrative singing, Martina proposes a new analytical framework to re-conceptualize traditional Chinese narrative music in the crossroads of literature, language, and music. 

Martina spent four summers in Hong Kong (2010-2013) as a Cultural Liaison, organizing cultural activities for UT Business School students studying abroad. A former intern at the National Endowment for the Arts and the Intangible Cultural Heritage Section of UNESCO (United Nations Educations, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), Martina participates in various cross-cultural educational initiatives to bridge the gap between theory and practice.


Dr. Li is a dedicated performer for Javanese Gamelan music since 2011. She served as teaching assistant of UT Javanese Gamelan Ensemble from 2015 to 2018.



Photo by Mayumi Miyaoka @ NYC, 2019