Winners of the First Prize and the Amadeus Prize at the London International String Quartet Competition in 2006, the FORMOSA QUARTET is “one of the very best quartets of their generation” (David Soyer, cellist of the Guarneri Quartet). Its debut recording on the EMI label was hailed as “spellbinding” (Strad Magazine) and “remarkably fine” (Gramophone), and 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. Formed in 2002 when the four founding members came together for a concert tour of Taiwan, the Formosa Quartet is deeply committed to championing Taiwanese music and promoting the arts in the land of its heritage.
The members of the Formosa Quartet are the founders and faculty members of the annual Formosa Chamber Music Festival 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.
In the 2015-2016 season, the Formosa Quartet continues a two-year residency with Art of Élan, a San Diego arts-presenting organization. As ensemble-in-residence, the Quartet is working with UCSD professor of composition Lei Liang to create a new piece based on music indigenous to the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. The culmination of the two-year project was the premiere performance of the commission in Spring 2016 and looks ahead to a new disc of music inspired by Hungarian and Taiwanese folk traditions.
In its relatively brief existence, the Formosa Quartet’s active commissioning has contributed significantly to the 21st century’s string quartet literature. They premiered Taiwanese-American composer Shih-Hui Chen’s Returning Souls: Four Pieces on Three Formosan Amis Legends in 2014, and 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.
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, Taos School of Music, Stanford University, McGill University, and the Juilliard School. In 2014 the Quartet became the faculty quartet-in-residence at the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.
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.