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Biography

One of the few violists to ever be awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant as well as a 48th Annual GRAMMY Award Nomination (Best Soloist with Orchestra), Richard Yongjae O'Neill is rising to international prominence as one of the most promising artists of his generation. Highlights from this season include appearances with the London Philharmonic led by Vladimir Jurowski, the Asian premiere of the Brett Dean Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic led by Francois Xavier Roth, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra with Constantine Orbelian, a Live from Lincoln Center television broadcast for PBS with the Chamber Music Society, an appearance with the Emerson String Quartet and Leon Fleisher at the Mostly Mozart Festival in Avery Fisher Hall, and the release of his third album for Deutsche Grammophon. In recent seasons he has made debuts at the world's most prestigious halls including New York's Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Paris' Salle Cortot and Seoul Arts Center. In 2008-09 he will make his recital debut at the Kennedy Center, tour South Korea with Concerto Köln celebrating the release of his fourth album for ARCHIV/DG, and will return to London to perform with the London Philharmonic at the South Bank Centre. O'Neill has performed with many orchestras including the Los Angeles and Euroasian Philharmonics, and the KBS Symphony Orchestra among many others.

A highly accomplished chamber musician, he has collaborated with the Juilliard and Emerson String Quartets, Ensemble Wien-Berlin, Gil Shaham, Cho-Liang Lin, Kyung-Wha and Myung-Wha Chung, Kyoko Takezawa, Elmar Oliviera, Jamie Laredo, Joshua Bell, James Ehnes, Nicola Benedetti, Steven Isserlis, Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffmann, Carter Brey, Edgar Meyer, Barry Douglas, Jon Nakamatsu, Garrick Ohlsson and Andre-Michel Schub, among others. He was a member of Chamber Music Society Two of Lincoln Center, a residency that features the world’s most gifted young chamber musicians, and frequently returns to the Society. He also serves as principal violist of Santa Barbara-based Camerata Pacifica. He frequently tours with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as well as with Musicians from Marlboro. He has held the position of principal violist and soloist with Sejong (Opus 3 Artists). Festival appearances include Marlboro, Aspen, Bridgehampton, Casals, Chamber Music Northwest, IMS Prussia Cove, La Jolla, Mostly Mozart, Seattle as well as Bargemusic and Brooklyn.

A UNIVERSAL CLASSICS Recording Artist, his latest album “Winter Journey” for Deutsche Grammophon debuted this past October and has earned him a Platinum Disc Award: his debut album for UNIVERSAL released in 2005 garnered him a Gold Disc Award. His second album was the unprecedented #1 Bestselling Classical (as well as International Pop) Recording for 2006, garnering him a Double Platinum Disc Award. In addition to his recording contract with UNIVERSAL/DG, Mr. O'Neill is dedicated to recording lesser known music for labels such as Naxos, Bridge, Centaur and Tzadik: his recordings of Schoenberg and Webern for Naxos were the subject of an extensive New York Times article which described his performances as revelatory. His recording of Schoenberg's String Quartet Concerto as a member of the Fred Sherry String Quartet earned him a GRAMMY Nomination for Best Soloist with Orchestra. Recordings of Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola as well as Schoenberg's String Trio, Ode to Napoleon and Third String Quartet are due to be released on Naxos in the coming year as well as his fourth solo album with Concerto Köln featuring Baroque repertoire for ARCHIV/DG.

No stranger to the media, he has been featured on television and radio broadcasts worldwide. A popular figure in Korea, he was the subject of a two-part, five-hour documentary for the Korean Broadcasting System that was broadcast to over 12 million people, and has been featured on all of the nation’s major television networks, magazines and newspapers. He has also performed on CNN and PBS, served as a Young Artist-in-Residence for National Public Radio’s Performance Today in Washington D.C., and has been broadcast on BBC-3, the CBC Live from the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, WQXR, WFMT, and most of the broadcast stations nationwide.

The first and only violist to receive the prestigious Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School, he received degrees from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music (B.M.), graduating magna cum laude, and The Juilliard School (M.M.). He has studied with Paul Neubauer and Donald McInnes. Mr. O'Neill performs on a fine and rare viola made by Giovanni Tononi of Bologna, crafted in 1699.

Residing in New York City and Los Angeles, he was recently honored with a Proclamation from the New York City Council for his achievement and contribution to the arts. A dedicated teacher as well as performer, Mr. O’Neill serves on the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music at the University of California, Los Angeles as its youngest member.


“Ravishing” — London Times

“An electric performance…a crackling, visceral, reading that held the audience in rapt attention” — New York Times

“First-rate” — New York Times

“Elegant, velvety tone" — New York Times

“A colorfully robust, expressive performance.” — New York Times

“An astounding performance” — New York Sun

“Richard O’Neill was the real find of the evening” — New York Sun

“Technically immaculate” — Los Angeles Times

“Fierce virtuosity” — San Francisco Chronicle

“A rock solid performance that showcased the obvious ardency and skill of Richard Yongjae O’Neill” — Denver Post

“There was a new face that should be noted right away: violist Richard O’Neill made a smashing debut…the young musician is already making his way in the highly competitive world of music…O’Neill took every advantage with his big, resonant sound, facile technique and secure musicality. Over the past 25 years, the Seattle Chamber Music Society has introduced any number of important musicians to Seattle. O’Neill is the latest” — Seattle Post Intelligencer

This biography was most recently edited by...
cameratapacifica - 16 Sep 2009
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