Originating from different educational and cultural backgrounds, and living and working on different continents, these four accomplished artists share in a common passion. Long before becoming The Great Wall String Quartet in 2009, violinists Wei Lu and Qi Zhou, violist Chi-Yuan Chen and cellist Yao Zhao had collaborated on many concerts and performances. They recognized a shared vision, which was to promote and perform great chamber works and to develop better training and education opportunities for chamber musicians. The decision was made to unite their talents with the aim of using music – and their heartfelt playing – as a universal language to connect with more immediacy to audiences and to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of chamber musicians.
In its first season The Great Wall String Quartet toured extensively in Asia to great acclaim. Later that same year, the musicians were invited by UNESCO to participate in a documentary representing the Great Wall of China for the 2009 World Heritage Festival. The Quartet has since toured both performing and teaching in many Asian countries including China, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Their first recording, Great Wall, released in 2012, won the Best Performance in Classical Music Award at the 2013 24th Golden Melody Award in Taiwan. The Quartet’s second album, Tango, received The Best String Quartet Album of the 11th HiFi Album Award in China in 2015.
When not playing or teaching together, all four members of The Great Wall String Quartet hold tenured positions with world-class professional orchestras. Great Wall’s first violinist, Wei Lu is Concertmaster for Deutsches Symphony-Orchester, Berlin, a position which he won after undergoing a 17-audition process, makes him one of the youngest concertmasters among the world’s leading orchestras today. He is the Berlin Philharmonic’s first ever Chinese guest Concertmaster, and he has been invited as guest Concertmaster for Orchestre Symphonique De Montréal and Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich.
The Quartet’s second violinist Qi Zhou, was invited by Maestro Justus Frantz to join the Philharmonie der Nationen as their Second Violin Principal prior to his appointment with the Munich Philharmonic in 2001. He is a proud member of the Munich Philharmonic’s prestigious chamber orchestra, Philharmonisches Kammerorchester München, and also a frequent guest principal violinist for Hangzhou Philharmonic and Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
Our founding member, Taiwanese violist Chi-Yuan Chen holds the Viola Principal chair of San Diego Symphony Orchestra and is a faculty member at San Diego State University. He was the winner of the 2004 International Paris Viola Competition, Ville d’Avary, the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and the recipient of the Henri Kohn Award at the Tanglewood Music Festival for his contributions to chamber music.
The current violist - Erik Wenbo Xu, Co-principalviolist of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in Hamburg. He is a multiple prize winner of national competitions in China, DAAD scholarship, Villa Musica, Schubertiade and was admitted to the European String Academy Bonn. Major artistic impuls obtained Erik Wenbo Xu particular by Eberhard Feltz, Franz Beyer, Wolfram König and others. From 2001 to 2007 he was a member of the Jade Quartet and thus got the first Prize at Germany - wide university competition Frankfurt 2004, the iris- Marquart price, the third Price at the 5th Japan Osaka International Chamber Music Competitionin 2005. As a mentor he is invited to Youth Symphony Orchestra like Youth Symphony Orchestra of Bremen, Niedersachsen State Youth orchestra, Youth Symphony Orchestra of NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and the Young German Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Mentor of the Hamburg NDR Elbphiharmonie Orchestra Academy for viola and chamber music.
Described by New York Concert Review as “a superb cellist with intense and sensuous sound,” and by Los Angeles Times as “being able to handle the most intricate musical works with unblinking ease and expressive zeal,” cellist Yao Zhao was recently honored as one of China’s Ten Extraordinary Cellists of the Generation. He is the Principal Cellist for San Diego Symphony Orchestra and on faculty at both Idyllwild Arts Academy and San Diego State University.
The Great Wall String Quartet would like to sincerely thank our founding member, violist Chiyuan Chen for his ten years of dedicated serves to our quartet. We will always treasure his artistry, musicianship and friendship. At the same time, we warmly welcome our newest member, violist Erik Wenbo Xu, and together, we will continue to make music across the continents!