Chen Zhao
  1. Faculty

Chen Zhao


Courses Taught

  • Private Lessons
  • Orchestral Training for Violins


  • MA, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • BA, Curtis Institute of Music


  • San Francisco Symphony, 2000–Present

What is your hometown?

Shanghai, China

What is your favorite recording?

Too many! I enjoy listening to stylistic players such as Alfredo Campoli, Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh, Vasa Prihoda, Oscar Shumsky, Henri Temianka, Jacque Thibaud, Sandor Vegh, Michael Rapin, Lisa Batiashvili, and Vadim Repin.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Family, nature, hikes, travels, food, gardens, photography, fine arts, and fine cars.

Who were your major teachers?

Camilla Wicks, Felix Galimir, and Heiichiro Ohyama.

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“How do I play with more refinement, style, and character?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

When I was accepted at the Curtis Institute of Music to study with the legendary Felix Galimir.

What was a turning point in your career?

When I joined the San Francisco Symphony.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

Never actually thought about it...

What is your daily practice routine?

I start with scales, bow exercises, and vibrato exercises, play some Bach or Paganini, then move on to pieces that I am working on.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Beethoven, Mozart, and Stravinsky.

What are your most important collaborations?

Michael Tilson Thomas, Jorja Fleezanis, and Martin Lovett.