Successful Del Mar violinist returns home for local concert

By Kristina Houck

Although he currently lives in New York, world-renowned violinist David Chan grew up in Del Mar. The Juilliard-trained musician is set to return to North San Diego County for a concert April 19 at the Encinitas Library.

“Del Mar was always home,” said Chan, whose parents still live in the coastal community. “It’s always good to come back.”

Chan is concertmaster of Metropolitan Opera’s orchestra, which he first joined in 1998. He also serves as a faculty member at Juilliard, his alma mater.

Born in San Diego, Chan began playing the violin at the age of 3. His parents encouraged him to learn the instrument after they watched a demonstration for a Suzuki violin program at his preschool.

“They thought it would be good for me to do it,” Chan said. “Nobody had any idea at that point what it would lead to.”

At 14, Chan won San Diego Symphony’s Young Artists Concerto Competition and subsequently appeared with the orchestra in two concert series. He became the featured soloist on the orchestra’s international tour later that same year. At 17, Chan gained international recognition when he received the top prize at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow.

After graduating from La Jolla Country Day School, Chan went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his master’s from Juilliard. He made his Carnegie Hall debut during the 2002-03 concert season.

“We recognize that we’re very lucky to have the life we have, having reached the level that we have in music,” said Chan, who is married to Catherine Ro, also a violinist in the MET orchestra. They have three children. “It’s a very blessed life with a lot of opportunities to experience a lot of things that most people don’t get to.”

Chan has performed around the world as a soloist and with a variety of orchestras, including Aspen Chamber Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Moscow State Symphony and Taiwan National Symphony, among others. Still, he always looks forward to returning to San Diego — this time to perform in the second concert of “Virtuoso,” a new concert series founded by Rancho Santa Fe resident and violinist Michael Tseitlin.

“To truly communicate as a performer you have to give of yourself,” Chan said. “That’s a special quality that I understand my friends in other fields who are good at what they do and are dedicated to their job — they don’t necessary always get an opportunity to do that. Every time I touch the bow to the string, it’s an opportunity to do that.”

This will be the first time Chan has performed in the region since he participated in La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest last August. In addition to Chan, the concert will feature cellist Sergey Antonov and pianist Bernadene Blaha.

“It’s a fantastically varied and interesting program,” Chan said. “The audience will get to hear a variety of different combinations and different styles of music. I’m hoping the audience will find it stimulating, varied and exciting.”

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. April 19 at the Encinitas Library, located at 540 Cornish Drive in Encinitas.

Tickets cost $25 for general admission and $21 for students and seniors.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit