Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concert Master Robert Chen and pianist Benjamin Loeb present a live performance of violin and piano music on this Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert broadcast.
Biographies Courtesy of the International Music Foundation
Robert Chen has been Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1999. Since then he has been featured as a soloist with conductors including Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Christoph Eschenbach, Charles Dutoit, Ton Koopman, Osmo Vänskä, Vasily Petrenko, Nicholas Kraemer and James Conlon. He gave the CSO premiere of György Ligeti’s Violin Concerto, Elliott Carter’s Violin Concerto, and Witold Lutoslawski’s Chain Two, as well as the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s Astral Canticle.
In addition to his duties as concertmaster, Chen enjoys a solo career that includes performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, NDR Orchestra of Hanover, Asia Philharmonic and the Bournemouth Symphony, collaborating with conductors such as Myung-Whun Chung, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Manfred Honeck, Pavel Kogan and Andreas Delfs.
An avid chamber musician, Chen has performed with Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, Christoph Eschenbach, Myung-Whun Chung, Emanuel Ax, Mitsuko Uchida, Lynn Harrell, and János Starker. A frequent participant at numerous festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, Santa Fe Music Festival, La Jolla Chamber Music Festival, and the Schloss Moritzburg Festival, he also has toured extensively with Musicians from Marlboro and is a founding member of the Johannes Quartet.
Prior to joining the CSO, Chen won first prize in the Hanover International Violin Competition. As part of that prize, he recorded Tchaikovsky’s complete violin works for the Berlin Klassics label.
A native of Taiwan, Chen began his violin studies at the age of seven. He continued his studies with Robert Lipsett when he and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1979. While in Los Angeles, he participated in Jascha Heifetz’s master classes. Chen received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music from the Juilliard School, where he was a student of Dorothy DeLay and Masao Kawasaki.
In his free time, he enjoys relaxing at home with his wife Laura and two children, Beatrice and Noah.
Pianist Benjamin Loeb is an accomplished soloist, accompanist, conductor, arranger, educator, arts administrator, and entrepreneur whose performances have been heralded by the Boston Globe as “vigorous, cogent playing signaled the kind of equally weighted partnership.” In May 2015, he performed Morton Gould’s Interplay with the Boston Pops Orchestra at the invitation and under the direction of New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert. He has also collaborated as a soloist with conductors including JoAnn Falletta, Carl St. Clair, and Rossen Milanov. His widely varied projects range from concerts of Beethoven and Bruckner symphonies to recordings with Yo-Yo Ma of 16th century Italian madrigals to tours with rock musicians to world premieres of cutting-edge avant-garde music.
At the invitation of United States Department of State, Loeb toured Argentina and Uruguay as an Artistic Ambassador, performing recitals of the music of Scott Joplin and giving master classes and workshops with youth orchestras and young musicians. He has recorded for Naxos, CBC, and the DSCLabel as both a soloist and a collaborative pianist. He holds a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory in Conducting (as a student of Gustav Meier), a Master’s in Music from the Curtis Institute, a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the Juilliard School in Accompanying, and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University.
Most recently, Benjamin Loeb served as the Executive Director of the Quad City (Iowa) Symphony Orchestra from 2013 to 2017. He has also served as Executive Director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and as Music Director of the 2011 New Hampshire Music Festival. As Associate Conductor of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, Loeb founded and served as both Executive and Music Director of the El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras–El Paso’s only national-level, NEA-recognized, multiple-orchestra system serving the best young musicians in the El Paso, southern New Mexico, and Juarez region. He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the International Conducting Workshop and Festival, now in its thirteenth year, hosted by orchestras around the world, most recently the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic in Zlin, Czech Republic.
Loeb lives in Davenport, Iowa with his wife, Quyen, his 11-year-old daughter, Anna Sofia Uni, his 9-year-old, Lulu Ladybug, and 7-year-old son Ryan “Taco”. He continues occasionally to concertize worldwide as pianist, conductor, educator, and arts advocate. Loeb’s far-ranging interests do not limit him to music; he has directed plays, cooked gourmet meals for 65, tutored over 500 people in test preparation for the Princeton Review, and played and enjoyed almost every sport. He is also an active member of the Davenport Rotary Club. Moreover (or most important), he is a lifetime Dallas Cowboys fan.