Robert Chen has been concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1999. During his years as concertmaster, he has been featured as soloist with Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez, among others. 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 and more. An avid chamber musician, Chen has performed with artists such as Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman and Yo-Yo Ma. A frequent participant at numerous festivals, 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 and participated in Jascha Heifetz’s master classes when he and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1979. Chen received both his 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.
Biography courtesy of the CSO website.
Benjamin Loeb is an, accomplished soloist, accompanist, conductor, arranger, educator, arts administrator and entrepreneur. His piano performances have been heralded by the Boston Globe: “[his] vigorous, cogent playing signaled the kind of equally weighted partnership, plus competition, plus mutual quest, etc. that [makes] this music live.” In May 2015, he soloed with the Boston Pops Orchestra at the invitation and under the direction of former New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert. He has also collaborated as concerto soloist with many other 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 Italian 16th century madrigalists to tours with popular rock musicians to world premieres of the most cutting-edge avant-garde contemporary music.
In the last year, he has performed the complete Brahms Violin Sonatas with Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Robert Chen and the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with violinist Jennifer Frautschi. 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 (both as soloist and collaborative pianist), CBC and the DSCLabel. He holds a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory in Conducting, as a student of Gustav Meier, a Master in Music from the Curtis Institute and a Doctor 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 through 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 eighteenth year, hosted by orchestras around the world, most recently the Lviv Philharmonic in Lviv, Ukraine.
He lives in Davenport, Iowa with his wife, Quyen, his 12-year-old daughter, Anna Sofia Uni, his 10-year-old, Lulu Ladybug, and 8-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.
Biography courtesy of the artist’s website.