Lauded by The Washington Post as a “real star,” Qi Cao has performed widely as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra musician throughout China, Singapore, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States, appearing at prestigious concert halls such as New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—both in the Concert Hall and on the Millennium Stage. Cao has been featured in numerous reviews, including The Washington Post, the Wisconsin State Journal, the Capital Times, the Times-Picayune, the Well-Tempered Ear, the Score Newsletter, the Singapore Embassy Newsletter, the Straits Times (Singapore), and Instep magazine (Singapore).

Cao joined the North Carolina Symphony beginning with the 2018/19 season, and plays with the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra during the summer. She was a violinist at the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra from 2013-2018. Cao has a doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master of music degree from Yale University.

Cao won first prizes in numerous competitions including the Emerging Artist Competition in Monroe, the National Piano and Violin Competition in Singapore, the Schubert Club Bruce P. Carlson Competition in Minneapolis, the Wisconsin American String Teachers Association (ASTA) Solo Competition, the Connecticut ASTA Solo Competition, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Concerto Competition, and the Kennedy Center/NSO Summer Institute Concerto Competition. Cao received the International String Player Award at the Gisborne International Music Competition in New Zealand.

Cao previously served as the assistant principal violinist at the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra and as a section violinist at the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and Madison Opera. She also performed with the Symphony Silicon Valley, the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and the Singapore Festival Orchestra.

Cao has appeared as guest concertmaster in the Las Vegas Young Artist Orchestra, the Kennedy Center/NSO Summer Institute, Australia Summer Orchestra Institute, and Norfolk Chamber Choir Institute, and as principal second in the Round Top Music Festival. She has also participated in the Pacific Music festival (Japan), the Orford Music Academy (Canada), Singapore Arts Festival, and Shanghai (China) International Spring Music Festival.

Cao is a violin and recorder teacher for the Link-Up outreach program at the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and a string faculty for the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra Summer Music Festival. She has taught violin and viola lessons at the Esperanza School, the KIPP New Orleans Leadership Academy, the Community Music Lesson Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Foote School in New Haven, and the Motivate Music School in Singapore. Cao has given multiple presentations and lecture recitals in New York, Madison, New Orleans, and Shanghai. She frequently serves as a jury for auditions and competitions in the United States.