Sound Wave Cropped Left


Chen Cao



Chair Donor
Stephen Lloyd

Described by world-class musician Mischa Maisky as “a wonderfully gifted incredible cellist”. Chen Cao was born into a musical family in Beijing, China. His mother is principal YangQin player at China National Traditional Orchestra. His father is an erhu Professor at China Conservatory of Music. At the age of two, with the encouragement of his father, he began study of the traditional Chinese erhu, and within three years, he won first prize at a national competition for young erhu players. He continued to excel at the erhu until he heard his first cello, and that was enough to fuel a new obsession that has lasted to the present day.

At ten, Chen became an honor student in the pre-college division of China’s prestigious Central Conservatory of Music. In the same year, he was the First Prize Winner in the youth division at the Ai-Qin Cup China National Cello Competition. Over the next few years, He was heard in approximately 300 events in music school all over in china, ranging from the country’s capital of Beijing to smaller cities such as Taiyuan, Datong, and Anhui. Chen has performed solo, chamber music and with orchestra appearing in venues such as the China National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing Concert Hall, and Tianjin Concert Hall. Chen’s growing career took him to the Sapporo Concert Hall and Suntory Hall in Japan, Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall in New York, Helsinki Music Centre in Finland, and Berlin Concert Hall in Germany.

Recently serving as the principal cellist of the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Valery Gergiev, Chen has been the principal cellist of the Verbier Music Festival Orchestra and a member of Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra and the associate principal of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. He has also participated in cello masterclasses with Andres Diaz, David Geringas, David Geber, , Gary Hoffman, Hai-Ye Ni, Jian Wang, Li-Wei Qing, and Richard Aaron. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with New York Philharmonic’s Carter Brey and Peter Wiley of the Guarneri String Quartet, he is now completing his Master of music degree at the Juilliard School. Chen also passionate about chamber music, he not only played many chamber music with his friends in different locations such as The Art Museum in Philadelphia, Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York, but he also was invited by Forbidden Chamber Orchestra as guest musician.

Chen’s goal is to share music with people everywhere. During his spare time, he loves reading, cooking, and playing video games such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, and the League of Legends. His favorite sport is ping-pong, and he is really good at it. As a child, he played ping-pong six hours every day with a singular focus that only changed when he went to the middle school. His favorite food is fried rice, and he is also really good at making that! He will be joining the Auckland Philharmonia as their new Sub-Principal in 2020. He is really excited about this new job, and to start a new chapter of his life.

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