Originally broadcast October 9, 2017.
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.