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 Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Christoph Eschenbach, Charles Dutoit, Ton Koopman, 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. Most recently, he closed the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2011-12 season as soloist in Paganini’s First Violin Concerto with Riccardo Muti conducting.
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, and the Bournemouth Symphony, collaborating with conductors such as 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, 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.
Robert Chen first appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in June 2000, in Saint-Saëns’s The Muse and the Poet with Yo-Yo Ma, and Christoph Eschenbach conducting. He made his subscription concert debut as soloist at Orchestra Hall in November and December 2000, in Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto with Daniel Barenboim conducting. Chen most recently appeared as soloist at the Ravinia Festival in July 2011 in Brahms’s Violin Concerto with James Conlon conducting. He most recently appeared as soloist on subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall in December 2012 as soloist in Barber’s Violin Concerto with Vasily Petrenko conducting.