The FORMOSA QUARTET is “one of the very best quartets of their generation” (David Soyer, cellist of the Guarneri Quartet). Winners of the First Prize and the Amadeus Prize at the London International String Quartet Competition in 2006, the Formosa’s debut recording on the EMI label was hailed as “spellbinding” (Strad Magazine) and “remarkably fine” (Gramophone). Formed in 2002 when the four founding members came together for a concert tour of Taiwan, the quartet has given critically acclaimed performances at the Ravinia Festival, the Caramoor Festival, the Library of Congress, the Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, Rice University, San Francisco State University, and Wigmore Hall in London.
The Formosa Quartet is deeply committed to championing Taiwanese music and promoting the arts in the land of its heritage, and their active commissioning has contributed significantly to the 21st century’s string quartet literature. Their most recent commission, Lei Liang’s Song Recollections — as well as Taiwanese-American composer Shih-Hui Chen’s Returning Souls: Four Pieces on Three Formosan Amis Legends, premiered in 2014 — were results of their long-time interest in preserving the cultural voice of Taiwan. The Quartet’s recording of its first commission from Ms. Chen, Fantasia on the Theme of Plum Blossom, was released on the New World Records label in 2013. Other pieces recently written for the Quartet include three pieces by Dana Wilson — Hungarian Folk Songs, The night of h’s, and Apart — Wei-Chieh Lin’s Pasibutbut, and Thomas Oboe Lee’s Piano Quintet and Jasmine Variations.
From 2014-2016, the Formosa Quartet was resident quartet with Art of Élan, a San Diego arts-presenting organization. As ensemble-in-residence, Formosa worked closely with UCSD professor of composition Lei Liang to create Song Recollections, a highly elegant composite of music indigenous to the Amis, Bunun, Rukai, and Yami tribes of Taiwan. The premiere performance in Spring 2016 served as the culmination of the two-year commissioning project, which looks ahead to a new disc of music inspired by Hungarian and Taiwanese folk traditions.
The Formosa Quartet members are also the founders and faculty of the annual Formosa Chamber Music Festival (FCMF) in Hualien, Taiwan. Inaugurated in 2013 and modeled after American summer festivals such as Marlboro, Ravinia, the Taos School of Music, and Kneisel Hall, FCMF is the product of long-held aspirations and years of planning, and represents one of the quartet’s more important missions: to bring high-level chamber music training to talented young musicians in Taiwan and first-rate music to Taiwanese audiences.
The members of the Formosa Quartet – Jasmine Lin, Wayne Lee, Che-Yen Chen, and Deborah Pae – have established themselves as leading solo, chamber, and orchestral musicians. With degrees from the Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, and New England Conservatory, they have performed in major venues throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe, and have been top prizewinners in prestigious competitions such as the Paganini, Primrose, Fischoff, Naumburg, and Tertis competitions. As chamber musicians, they have appeared regularly at the Marlboro, Kingston, Santa Fe, Ottawa, Ravinia, Crans-Montana, and Schiermonnikoog festivals, as well as at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, La Jolla Summerfest, the Seattle Chamber Music Society, and Open Chamber Music at Prussia Cove. They have held principal positions in the San Diego and Cincinnati Symphonies, and have taught at the University of Southern California, California State University Fullerton, Roosevelt University, Eastern Michigan University, Taos School of Music, Stanford University, McGill University, and the Juilliard School. Formosa has been faculty quartet-in-residence at NYO Canada since 2014. Their most recent recording, an album of Brahms and Gernsheim Piano Quintets with pianist Reiko Uchida, was released on the Delos label in 2016.
The Formosa Quartet forms an octet with violins Joseph Curtin (2001) and Andrea Guarneri (1662), an Enrico Catenari viola (1680), and a Vincenzo Postiglione cello (1885) on generous loan from the Arts and Letters Foundation.
(647 words, July 2016, Ariel Artists. Please discard previously dated materials and contact Reynard Hulme, email@example.com, before making any alterations or cuts.)
Dana Wilson, Hungarian Folk Songs (Live at University of Tennessee Knoxville)
Mozart, String Quartet in F major, K. 590 (Live)
I – Allegro moderato
Shih-Hui Chen, Fantasia on the Theme of Plum Blossom (from New World Records CD)
Brahms, String Quintet in G major, Op. 111 (Live)
I – Allegro non troppo
II – Adagio
Shostakovich, String Quartet No. 5 (Live, Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, 2014)
Haydn, String Quartet in B minor, Op. 64 No. 2 (Live)
IV – Finale
Stéphane Grappelli (arr. Jasmine Lin), 4 Grappelli Jazz Tunes (Live at NYOCanada)
I – Djangology
II – Star Eyes
III – Sweet Lorraine
IV – Shine
2018/19 Program Offerings
- At 28
Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bartók
- High-Speed Chase
Bach, Mozart, Beethoven
- From Hungary to Taiwan
Shih-Hui Chen, Dana Wilson, Lei Liang, Bartók
- Encore, Encore
Haydn, Dana Wilson, Wei-Chieh Lin, Luca Marenzio
- 17/18 PREVIEW
With works by Stéphane Grappelli, John Adams, Wolf, Brahms, Beethoven, Debussy, and many others.
Current & Recent Programs
- Concerto Offerings
Formosa Quartet is pleased to offer the following concerti:
Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra
Pablo Sarasate (1844-1908)
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Introduction and Allegro
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra
John Adams (b. 1947)
Projects & Collaborations
- Master Classes and Chamber Music Coachings
The Formosa Quartet brings years of experience and immeasurable enthusiasm to the instruction of the next generation of chamber musicians. They are thrilled to work with students in a variety of contexts. The group has teaching residencies at the Formo...
- Audience Building
Formosa Quartet is eager to bring music to underserved communities, and to perform in unusual or surprising new contexts. This could include performances at schools, retirement homes, and hospitals; they are also available for short, ad hoc performance...
- University Residencies
University residencies with the Formosa Quartet offer a total-immersion experience: beyond a full-length concert, individual lessons, and chamber music coachings and master classes, Formosa Quartet can conduct student composition readings and outreach ...