Appointed by Daniel Barenboim, Lei Hou joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1997. She previously was a member of the first violin section of the Cleveland Orchestra and served as assistant principal second violin of the National Symphony Orchestra for six years, appointed by Mstislav Rostropovich. As an active chamber musician and soloist, Hou has performed with Pinchas Zukerman, Yefim Bronfman and members of the Guarneri and Alban Berg quartets. She also toured Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg with musicians from the German Radio Orchestra.
Hou is a former member of the Manchester String Quartet of Washington, D.C. She has been a featured soloist in concerts broadcast on National Public Radio, WFMT-FM Chicago, and WBJC-FM Baltimore, and she has recorded chamber music by Mozart, Hoffmeister and Beethoven for German radio. She also has served on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Den Nye Opera Academy (now Bergen National Opera) in Norway and given master classes at Seoul National University, Korea National University of Arts and the Central Conservatory of Music and Middle School in Beijing.
Hou studied at Shanghai’s Middle School of Music and Conservatory of Music and at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Her festival experience includes performances at the Marlboro, Tanglewood, Sun City and Western Maryland music festivals; the Sun Valley Summer Symphony; and the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute. She frequently performs with the Lincoln Quartet, with which she has toured South America.
Lei Hou shares the stage with her sister Qing, who also is a violinist with the CSO.
Matous Michal was appointed to the second violin section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Music Director Riccardo Muti in February 2016. He previously was a member of the first violin section of the Grant Park Orchestra. Michal received praise from “The New York Times” for an appearance as concertmaster of the Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra in Strauss’s “Ein Heldenleben.”
A native of the Czech Republic, Matous Michal began his violin studies at the age of four under his father Ladislav Michal. At 14, he made his debut as soloist after winning the Dubai International Competition for Young Virtuosos performing Paganini’s Violin Concerto no. 1 with the symphony orchestra of the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Since then, he has won numerous other awards.
Also at 14, he began studies at the Prague Conservatory as a student of Jaroslav Foltýn. After graduating, he joined the studio of Glenn Dicterow at the Juilliard School, where he completed his bachelor’s degree. He earned a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music in the orchestral performance program under Dicterow and Lisa Kim in May 2016, four months after joining the CSO.
Michal has served as a concertmaster of the Verbier Festival Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra and Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra. He received coaching from Sylvia Rosenberg, Joseph Kalichstein and Earl Carlyss, and studied with Charles Avsharian and Kathleen Winkler.
Matous Michal joined the CSO alongside his brother, fellow violinist Simon Michal.
Lawrence Neuman has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1991. Before coming to Chicago he was violist with the Miami String Quartet. As a chamber musician he frequently is heard throughout the Chicago area and has performed across the United States and in Europe. He has appeared at festivals and chamber music series in Boston, Marlboro, La Jolla, Madison, Napa, Portland and Davenport. Chamber music collaborators have included such artists as Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, Yefim Bronfman, Lydia Artymiw, Gil Shaham and Aaron Rosand.
During the 1998/99 season Neuman took a leave of absence from the CSO to serve as principal viola of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. For several years he has taught viola and chamber music at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
A native of Saint Louis, Missouri, Neuman attended the Eastman School of Music, the University of Southern California and the Cleveland Institute of Music, and he was a student of Heidi Castleman, Donald McInnes and Robert Vernon.
Karen Basrak joined the cello section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2012. A native of Arlington Heights, Illinois, Basrak began her studies with Adele O’Dwyer, Gilda Barston and Richard Hirschl. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from the University of Southern California, where she studied with Eleonore Schoenfeld. Before returning to Illinois, Basrak was a member of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, beginning in 2001 as associate principal cello; she served as acting principal from 2002 to 2005 and principal from 2005 to 2012. As an advocate of music education, she has performed in schools throughout the nation. In recognition of her efforts, she was awarded the key to the city of Greenville, South Carolina. Basrak is on the faculty of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Hailed by The Washington Post for his “poised and imaginative playing,” Filipino-American pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion has appeared in concert halls in Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, Turkey and the USA, as a recitalist and concerto soloist. He played his orchestral debut at the age of 18 with the Manila Chamber Orchestra, and his New York recital debut in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in 1999. In addition, he has worked with conductors including Sergio Esmilla, Enrique Batiz, Mei Ann Chen, Zeev Dorman, Arthur Weisberg, Corrick Brown, David Loebel, Leon Fleisher, Michael Stern, Jordan Tang, and Bobby McFerrin.
Rush Hour Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Zell Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and contributions from individual donors.
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