Taiwanese-American violist Che-Yen Chen has established himself as an active recitalist, chamber musician, recording artist, and educator. He is a founding member of the Formosa Quartet, recipient of the First-Prize and the Amadeus Prize winner of the 10th London International String Quartet Competition. Since winning First-Prize in the 2003 Primrose International Viola Competition and the “President Prize” of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, he has been described by the Dallas Morning News as a musician who “played with silken finesse, and with elegant singers’ feelings for timing, shape, color and articulation” and by San Diego Union Tribune as an artist whose “most impressive aspect of his playing was his ability to find not just the subtle emotion, but the humanity hidden in the music”.
Having served as principal violist of the San Diego Symphony and Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Chen has appeared as guest principal with Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Toronto Symphony. A former member of Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two and participant of the Marlboro Festival, he is also a member of Camera Lucida and The Myriad Trio. Performing in chamber music festivals across North America and Asia, Chen appears frequently at the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music International, La Jolla Summerfest, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Hong Kong Chamber Music Festival, and National Youth Orchestra of Canada where the Formosa Quartet serves as faculty quartet-in-residence. In August 2013, Formosa Quartet inaugurated Taiwan’s very first chamber music festival. Modeled after Ravinia, Taos, Marlboro, and Kneisel Hall, Formosa Chamber Music Festival is the product of a long-held aspiration and represents one of Chen’s primary missions: to bring high-level chamber music training to talented young musicians, and to bring first-rate chamber music to Taiwanese audiences.
As a promotor for music of our time, Chen’s active commissioning with Formosa Quartet and The Myriad Trio has contributed significantly to the 21st century’s chamber music literature. Most recently the Quartet premiered Lei Liang’s Song Recollections; based on music indigenous to aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. Chen’s recordings with the Formosa Quartet can be found on EMI, Delos, and New World Records, and the Quartet’s current project, From Hungary to Taiwan, will be released with Bridge Records in the 2018-19 season.
Newly appointed Professor of Viola at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Chen has previously served on the faculty of USC Thornton School of Music, Indiana University South Bend, UC San Diego, San Diego State University, California State University Fullerton, and McGill University. He has given master-classes across North America and Asia, including schools such as Taipei National University of the Arts, New England Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Rice University, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and The Juilliard School. As a laureate, Chen was invited to serve on the jury of the 2011 Primrose International Viola Competition.
A native of Taipei, Chen began his viola study with Ben Lin and went on to be a four-time winner of the National Viola Competition in Taiwan. He came to the U.S. in his teens to matriculate at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, studying with such luminaries as Michael Tree, Joseph de Pasquale, Karen Tuttle and Paul Neubauer.