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Robert Chen has been concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1999. During his years as the CSO concertmaster, he has been featured as soloist with Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Christoph Eschenbach, Charles Dutoit, Ton Koopman, Osmo Vänskä, Vasily Petrenko, Nicholas Kraemer and James Conlon. 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 include performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, NDR Orchestra of Hanover, Asia Philharmonic and the Bournemouth Symphony, collaborating with conductors such as Myung-Whun Chung, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Manfred Honeck, Pavel Kogan and Andreas Delfs.
An avid chamber musician, Chen has performed with Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, Christoph Eschenbach, Myung-Whun Chung, Emanuel Ax, Mitsuko Uchida, Lynn Harrell, and János Starker. A frequent participant at numerous festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, Santa Fe Music Festival, La Jolla Chamber Music Festival, and the Schloss Moritzburg Festival, he also has toured extensively with Musicians from Marlboro and is a founding member of the Johannes Quartet.
Prior to joining the CSO, Robert 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, Robert Chen began his violin studies at the age of seven. He continued his studies with Robert Lipsett when he and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1979. While in Los Angeles, he participated in Jascha Heifetz’s master classes. Chen received both 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.
Pianist Kuang-Hao Huang has performed throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Asia. Mr. Huang is most often heard as a collaborator, performing concerts and radio broadcasts with Chicago’s finest musicians, from instrumentalists of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to singers with the Lyric Opera. He has been a guest of the Chicago Chamber Musicians and has performed with the Avalon, Chicago, Spektral and Vermeer String Quartets. Mr. Huang can be heard in recordings on the Cedille and Naxos labels.
An advocate of new music, Mr. Huang gave the world premiere performances of solo works by Louis Andriessen and Chen Yi at Weill Hall as part of Carnegie Hall’s Millennium Piano Book Project. He has also premiered numerous ensemble works, including pieces by Jacob Bancks, Mason Bates, Kyong Mee Choi, Stacy Garrop, John Harbison, Daniel Kellogg, James Matheson and Laura Schwendinger. Mr. Huang is a member of Fulcrum Point New Music Project. He has been involved with the Chicago Chamber Musicians Composer Perspectives series and has also played with MusicNOW and CUBE Ensemble.
A dedicated teacher, Mr. Huang serves on the faculties of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and Concordia University-Chicago. On behalf of the International Music Foundation, he has presented educational outreach programs throughout the Chicago Public Schools. For a decade, he coordinated the piano program at Northwestern University’s National High School Music Institute.
Mr. Huang has degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University and Northwestern University. His principal teachers include Leonard Hokanson, Joseph Kalichstein, Howard Karp, Rita Sloan and Sylvia Wang. During his graduate studies, Mr. Huang was a recipient of the U.S. Department of Education’s Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. He was also a member of the New World Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas’s orchestral academy.
A native of Whitewater, Wisconsin, Mr. Huang currently resides in Oak Park, Illinois with his wonderful wife and kids.
Stephen Williamson is the principal clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Riccardo Muti. Mr. Williamson recently was the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic (2013-14 season) under Alan Gilbert as well as principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (2003-11) under James Levine. In addition, he has been a frequent guest principal clarinetist with the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra in Japan under Seiji Ozawa.
Mr. Williamson is currently on the faculty of DePaul University in Chicago, IL. He has served on the clarinet faculty at Columbia University and the Mannes College of Music in New York City, as well as at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. He has recorded for the Sony Classics, Telarc, CRI, BMG, Naxos and Decca labels and can be heard on numerous film soundtracks. Most recently, Mr. Williamson was a featured soloist with the CSO under the baton of John Williams, recording his Oscar-nominated score for Steven Spielberg’s film, “Lincoln.”
An avid soloist and chamber musician, Mr. Williamson has performed extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia. He has collaborated with such artists as: Yo-Yo Ma, Jeffrey Kahane, Anne Marie McDermott, Emanuel Ax, Meliora Winds, Aspen, Dorian and Sylvan Wind Quintets; Brentano, American, Jasper and Dover String Quartets. Most recent concerto performances include the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with both the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in Japan (2011) and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in Carnegie Hall under conductor Fabio Luisi (2012).
He received his Bachelor’s degree and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and his Master’s degree from the Juilliard School. As a Fulbright Scholar, he furthered his studies at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, where he collaborated with various members of the Berlin Philharmonic. His past teachers include Peter Rieckhoff, Charles Neidich, Kenneth Grant and Michael Webster. Mr. Williamson was the grand prize winner of the 1994 Boosey & Hawkes/Buffet Crampon First Annual North American Clarinet Competition. Other past awards include the Concert Artists Guild Competition as well as the Coleman International Chamber Music Competition.
A long-time Selmer-Paris and Vandoren Artist, Mr. Williamson currently plays Selmer Signature clarinets and uses Vandoren traditional reeds with a James Pyne JX/BC mouthpiece. He resides in Wilmette, IL with his wife Jill, sons Ryan, Connor, Matthew and their dog Lila.