Cho-Liang Lin

Biography by Keith Finke

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Lin is one of the finest and most thorough violinists to emerge in the latter half of the 20th century.
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Artist Biography by Keith Finke

Violinist Cho-Liang Lin (Jimmy Lin, as he's sometimes known) emerged as a significant talent at the turn of the 21st century. After studies around the world, Lin made his professional debut at the age of 19, leading to a career of engagements with leading orchestras spanning the globe.

Lin was born on January 29, 1960, in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Encouraged by a neighbor's violin lessons and after playing a toy violin as a small child, Lin began playing the violin at age five. To continue his development, he moved to Sydney at 12, where he studied with Robert Pikler and Sylvia Lee. At 13, while still in Sydney, Lin had the opportunity to perform in a master class for Itzhak Perlman. This encounter led Lin to seek out Perlman's teacher, Dorothy DeLay, for advanced studies. Lin set off alone to New York and auditioned for the Juilliard School; he was accepted and earned the chance to work with DeLay for several years. After winning Madrid's Queen Sofia Violin Competition, Lin made his debut at age 19 with Lorin Maazel leading the New York Philharmonic in a performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. Since then, Lin has been a concerto soloist with orchestras from around the world, including the Detroit and Toronto Symphonies, the Royal Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, and Munich Philharmonic.

Lin's repertoire encompasses all of the violin standards, but it is in the performance of contemporary works that he has excelled. Along with works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms, Lin has performed world premieres of works, often through commissions, by such composers as Tan Dun, Gordon Chin, Christopher Rouse, and Bright Sheng. One of the aspects leading to Lin's propensity for new works is in his role as the music director of the La Jolla Society's Summerfest -- a position he's held since 2001 -- where he has commissioned and premiered works by Chen Yi, Philip Glass, and Chick Corea, among others. Lin is also the music director of the Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival and founded the Taipei International Music Festival in 1997.

Lin has recorded for several labels, including the major labels Sony Classical, Decca, BIS, and Naxos. He won a Gramophone Record of the Year Award in 1989 for his CBS Records album of concertos by Sibelius and Nielsen, with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting. Lin has twice earned Grammy Award nominations: for Schubert and Boccherini Quintets, with Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Sharon Robinson, and Isaac Stern, and for Brahms chamber music, with Stern, Laredo, Ma, Robinson, and Michael Tree, both on Sony Classical.

In 1991, Lin joined the faculty at Juilliard, and in 2006, he also began teaching at Rice University. He spent four years as the director of the Taiwan National Symphony Music Camp and Youth Orchestra. Lin was named Musical America's Instrumentalist of the Year in 2000.