Che-Yen Chen

Adjunct Associate Professor

Division: Classical Performance and Composition
Program: Strings

Instrument: Viola
Email: cheyench@usc.edu

Biography

Taiwanese-American violist Che-Yen Chen has established himself as an active performer 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 the First-Prize in the 2003 William Primrose International Viola Competition and the “President Prize” of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, Chen has been described by the Strad Magazine as a musician whose “tonal distinction and essential musicality produced an auspicious impression” 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 for eight seasons, he is principal violist of the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra and has appeared as guest principal violist with Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. A former member of Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two and participant of the Marlboro Music Festival, he is a member of Camera Lucida, Concertante Chamber Players and The Myriad Trio, which just released its debut album “The Eye of Night.” Chamber music festival appearances include the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music International, La Jolla Summerfest, Seattle Chamber Music Society and Taiwan Connection. In the summer of 2013, Formosa Quartet inaugurated their Formosa Chamber Music Festival in Hualien, Taiwan.

Currently teaching at both USC Thornton and California State University, Fullerton, Chen has previously served on the faculties of Indiana University South Bend, UC San Diego, San Diego State University and McGill University. He has taught and performed in programs such as National Youth Orchestra Canada, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Camp, and Mimir Festival, and has given master-classes at the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music, Rice University, University of Tennessee, University of Missouri Kansas City, UC Santa Barbara and various universities in Taiwan. As a laureate, Chen was invited to serve on the jury of the 2011 Primrose International Viola Competition.

A native of Taipei, Chen is 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.

Teaching Philosophy

“It is my belief that the most important element a teacher can share with students is the ability to help each novice musician become his or her own teacher. Having had the great fortune to have been mentored by violists who have been exemplars of our instrument in genres of solo, chamber music, and orchestra, it is my desire to extend our great traditions forward among my own students. I aim to inspire each student to learn how to make intellectual choices in order to achieve the highest quality of musicmaking, as well as to help them become great musicians themselves.” – Che-Yen Chen