Shanghai native Chen Zhao showed an early interest in music, playing a makeshift violin (a chopstick and pencil box) until his parents gave him a 1/8-size violin on his fourth birthday. He studied with his uncle and gave his first public performance at the Shanghai Children’s Palace at age six. He went on to study at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Crossroads School for Art and Sciences, Curtis Institute of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the New World Symphony, before joining the San Francisco Symphony at age twenty-five. His teachers include Jiyang Zhao, Heiichiro Ohyama, Felix Galimir, and Camilla Wicks.
Chen Zhao has performed at the Ravinia, La Jolla, Sun Valley, Round Top, Santa Fe, Pacific Music, Evian, BBC Proms, and Lucerne festivals, and he has appeared as a soloist with the Curtis Symphony, Oslo Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony (in the 2008 Chinese New Year Celebration), San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Stanford Symphony. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Zhao has performed with Martin Lovett, Miriam Fried, Paul Neubauer, Robert Chen, Gilbert Kalish, Jorja Fleezanis, Geraldine Walther, and studied with members of the Amadeus, Guarneri, Vermeer, Juilliard, and Borodin quartets.
Chen Zhao has been mentoring young violinists in the Bay Area since 2000. He is a violin professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and serves as an orchestral training coach for both the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.