Division: Classical Performance and Composition
Cellist Ben Hong performs frequently as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician collaborating with such artists as Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Lynn Harrell, Janine Jansen, Lang Lang, Cho-Liang Lin, Bobby McFerrin, Christopher O’Riley, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Shanghai String Quartet, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Lars Vogt and Long Yu. Los Angeles Philharmonic Assistant Principal Cellist since 1993, Hong has appeared as soloist with the LA PHIL and served as Acting Principal during the 2011-2012 season. Hong has appeared as soloist in Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger Concerto both at the Hollywood Bowl with Long Yu conducting and with the San Diego Symphony with Tan Dun as conductor.
Ben Hong’s desire to expand musical horizons has resulted in a range of diverse performance opportunities. He gave the US premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s cello concerto, Kai, with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the June 2000 Ojai Music Festival. The year 2006 found Hong performing a Bach Cello Suite, with accompaniment added by the hip-hop orchestra, DaKah, at Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the annual Grand Avenue Festival. That performance inspired Hong’s passion for improvisation, which he continues to develop with violinist/singer Lili Haydn. a collaboration spotlighted by Alex Ross in a 2007 article in The New Yorker magazine.
During the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series of 2007, Hong performed the Philharmonic premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s In Croce, leading to critic Alan Rich’s rave review, describing a composition “ecstatic and ecstatically played: hypnotic, intense, an unceasing 19-minute mantra.” His 2009 Hollywood Bowl performance of Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger Concerto, with the Philharmonic conducted by Long Yu, inspired the Los Angeles Times to state “really enchanting music played really well” noting that “the Bowl was magically bathed in Hong’s bold, gorgeous tone.”
Hong served as a consultant to the 2009 DreamWorks film, The Soloist, functioning as an on-set technical advisor, while teaching the star Jamie Foxx to convincingly handle the cello. The movie is based on Steve Lopez’s columns in the Los Angeles Times about Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former Juilliard student who ended up on the streets of Los Angeles homeless and suffering from schizophrenia, yet held tight to his music. Hong’s playing is featured on the film’s soundtrack.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Ben won his native country’s National Cello Competition three years in a row before leaving home, at 13, for the Juilliard School. He later studied with Lynn Harrell at the USC Thornton School of Music.
Ben Hong joined the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music as an Adjunct Instructor in 2012.