The New York Philharmonic

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Kuan Cheng Lu

Violinist Kuan Cheng Lu joined the New York Philharmonic at the start of the 2004–05 season — the first Taiwanese classical musician to earn a seat in the Philharmonic in its 170-year history. Lu has received numerous awards and scholarships that include the top prize in the Taiwan National Violin Competition, first prize in the ASTA string competition, the Raphael Bronstein Award, and the Taiwan Chi-Mei Corporation’s Outstanding Young Artist award. He received his bachelor’s in music degree from Oberlin College, his master’s in music from the Manhattan School of Music, and his doctor of musical arts from the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). He is an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West, now a partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, and has studied with former New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, Lisa Kim, Associate Principal, Second Violin Group, and Yoko Takebe. Other teachers have included Roland and Almita Vamos, Daniel Phillips, Julia Bushkova, as well as his father, Chung Chih Lu.

Lu has served as concertmaster of the Verbier Orchestra, Pacific Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, Oberlin Orchestra, Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, Manhattan Chamber Sinfonia, Manhattan Symphony, and Manhattan Philharmonia. As a member of the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, he makes regular appearances at Merkin Hall. Lu teaches at the Manhattan School of Music in the graduate program for orchestra performance.

“In 1997, when I was 17, I came to the US from Taiwan to the Interlochen Arts Academy. It was not my intention to leave my family, but I wanted to focus on violin.”

Q&A with Kuan Cheng Lu

The Facts: Born in Pindon, Taiwan. Attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music. Studied with former Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, former Philharmonic violinist Yoko Takebe, and Associate Principal, Second Violin Group, Lisa Kim; earlier studies with Roland and Almita Vamos, Julia Bushkova, and his father, Chung Chih Lu. Prior to the Philharmonic: concertmaster of the Verbier Orchestra, Pacific Music Festival, and other festival orchestras. At the Philharmonic: Joined in September 2004

Earliest musical memory: My father giving piano lessons — I was one or two years old. He put me in a swing next to him — that’s why I have all the piano études in my head! I started the piano at four. Two years later I switched to violin when my father started getting more violin students — I wanted to do it, too.

What was it like growing up in Taiwan as a musician? I started music school in the third grade. There were competitions from the fourth grade on. I won top prize in the Taiwan National Violin Competition, but there were constant exams, and I didn’t have time to practice. In 1997, when I was 17, I came to the US to the Interlochen Arts Academy. It was not my intention to leave my family, but I wanted to focus on violin.

Who were your most important mentors? My father, who provided a constant musical environment for me, although he never pressured me; Almita Vamos at Oberlin, who taught me the fundamentals I didn’t have in Taiwan and encouraged me to pursue my goal; and Glenn Dicterow, who let me go with my own style and gave me confidence and musical freedom.

Most memorable moments with the Orchestra: Maazel conducting Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. I had played it so many times, and this performance was unique and powerful. Also, Mahler’s Third Symphony with Maazel; the Brahms Second with Muti; and Beethoven’s Ninth with Masur.

Has your playing changed since you joined the Philharmonic? Yes! I have to say that being surrounded by some of the greatest musicians in the country constantly gives me this urge to improve myself and to explore deeper meanings in performing music for an audience. It’s truly a blessing, and I try to observe the differences in my music-making throughout the years with a sense of gratitude.

What do you do in your free time? I enjoy spending time with my family whenever I am not at work. My wife and I have a daughter (just turned five) and a son (almost two). They really keep us busy, but at the same time bring so much joy into our lives. We also try to introduce to them the wonderful things in music, just like my father did for me.

As of February 2019

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

Location: (Directions)
Price Range:
NY Phil Ensembles at Merkin
3:00 PM Concert

NY Phil Ensembles at Merkin

Program and artists
Program To Include
  • Melinda Wagner, Elegy Flywheel (World Premiere– New York Philharmonic Commission, Part of Project 19)
  • Janáček, String Quartet No. 1
  • I. Yun, Together
  • Arensky, Piano Trio No. 1
  • Kuan Cheng Lu, Violin
  • Fiona Simon, Violin
  • Sharon Yamada, Violin
  • Lisa Eunsoo Kim, Violin
  • Kyung Ji Min, Violin
  • Robert Rinehart, Viola
  • Nathan Vickery, Cello
  • Alexei Yupanqui Gonzales, Cello
  • ...,

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