Award-winning violist Che-Yen Chen is a founding member of the Formosa Quartet. Upon winning the First-Prize in the 2003 Primrose International Viola Competition, Chen and his quartet won the Grand-Prize of the 2006 London International String Quartet Competition. Dallas Morning News described him as a musician who "played with silken finesse, and with elegant singers' feelings for timing, shape, color, and articulation." San Diego Union-Tribune described him as an artist who finds "not just the subtle emotion, but the humanity hidden in the music." Chen has recorded on EMI, Delos, New World Records, and Aeolian Classics. His recording with the Formosa Quartet, From Hungary to Taiwan, released by Bridge Records, was named "The Best Classical Releases of January 2019" by New York Public Radio WQXR.
As an orchestral musician, Chen served as principal violist of the San Diego Symphony and Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra from 2004-2012. He has appeared as guest principal with Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Chen is a former member of Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society's Bowers Program and toured with Musician from Marlboro and Musician from Ravinia. Aside from being a member of the Formosa Quartet, his current chamber music projects include Camera Lucida and The Myriad Trio. True to the original social function of chamber music, Camera Lucida is a project of friendship and personal exploration. Based in San Diego, Camera Lucida has shared its exploratory way of music-making with the San Diego audience for more than a decade. Consists of the colorful and imaginative combo of the flute, harp, and viola, The Myriad Trio focuses on expanding this rare but exquisite genre through transcribing and commissioning. A frequent visitor to music festivals across North America and Asia, Chen appears 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 among numerous others.
UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music appointed Chen as professor of viola in 2018. He 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.
An experienced performer of solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire, combined with his passion in education, Chen's expertise in these areas has led him to embark on Formosa Quartet's cofounding of the Formosa Chamber Music Festival in Taiwan. It is the first intensive chamber music training program of its kind in this island country. Currently, Formosa Quartet serves as the quartet-in-residence with the National Youth Orchestra Canada and the newly inaugurated Taipei Music Academy and Festival.
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 study at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. His teacher includes luminaries as Michael Tree, Joseph de Pasquale, and Paul Neubauer.