Honggang Li is the founding member of the Shanghai Quartet, now in its 39th season, and has performed over 2,000 concerts in 30 countries and can be heard on more than 35 CD albums. Li began studying the violin with his parents at age seven. When the Central Conservatory of music in Beijing reopened in 1977, Li was selected to attend from a group of over five hundred applicants. He continued his training at the Shanghai Conservatory and co- founded the Shanghai Quartet with his brother Weigang while in his senior year in the conservatory. The quartet soon became the first Chinese quartet to win a major international chamber music competition (1985 Portsmouth International String Quartet Competition) and came to the US in 1985. He received a MM from North Illinois University and served as a teaching assistant at The Juilliard School in New York. In 1987, he won the special prize (a 1757 DeCable violin) given by Elisa Pegreffi of Quartetto Italiano at the First Paolo Borciani International Competition in Italy.
From 1989 to 2021, Li was Artist-in-Residence at Montclair State University and University of Richmond in Virginia. He has been the guest professor of both conservatories of Shanghai and Beijing. Li is also the guest principle violist of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra since 2009. In addition, he joined The Tianjin Juilliard School as resident faculty in the fall of 2020. Li plays on a 1700 Matteo Goffriller viola generously loaned to him by the Beare International Violin Society.