Formosa Quartet

Formosa Quartet

string quartet

Winners of the First Prize and Amadeus Prize at the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition, the FORMOSA QUARTET has been hailed as “spellbinding” (The Strad) and “remarkably fine” (Gramophone), and has given critically acclaimed performances at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Wigmore Hall in London, die Glocke Bremen, and the Kammermusiksaal at the Berliner Philharmonie. 

For two decades and counting, the Formosa Quartet has forged uncharted musical terrain in performances that go “beyond the beautiful and into the territory of unexpectedly thrilling… like shots of pure espresso” (MUSO Magazine). The founding members’ interest in championing Taiwanese music and Indigenous cultures has since expanded to include the exploration of the rich folk traditions and heritages found in America today. Whether in its uncompromisingly exploratory approach to the standard quartet literature; its socioculturally probing American Mirror program concept; or its unique Sets curated from its collection of folk, pop, jazz, and poetry arrangements, the Formosa Quartet is committed to an insatiable search for the fresh and new in string quartet expression.

The Formosa Quartet undertakes a variety of residencies at organizations and institutions across North America and Asia. In Fall 2023, they begin their appointment as Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. They have also been appointed the M. Thelma McAndless Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities by Eastern Michigan University during the 2023-2024 season. The ensemble serves as Faculty Quartet-in-Residence at the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC) and has enjoyed residencies at Art of Élan; Rice University, University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Diego; San Diego State University, and Heidelberg University.

The Formosa Quartet has played a leading role in actively commissioning new works, contributing significantly to the modern string quartet repertory. FQ’s 2019 milestone album From Hungary to Taiwan includes premiere recordings of three Formosa commissions: Lei Liang’s Song Recollections, Dana Wilson’s Hungarian Folk Songs, and Wei-Chieh Lin’s Five Taiwanese Folk Songs. Other works composed for the quartet include pieces by Dana Wilson, Wei-Chieh Lin, Shih-Hui Chen, and Clancy Newman. 

The members of the Formosa Quartet – Jasmine Lin, Wayne Lee, Matthew Cohen, and Deborah Pae – have established themselves as leading solo, chamber, and orchestral musicians. With degrees from the Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, New England Conservatory, Colburn Conservatory, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, they have performed in major venues throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe and have been top prizewinners in prestigious competitions such as the Paganini, Primrose, Fischoff, and Naumburg competitions. As chamber musicians, they have appeared regularly at the Marlboro, Kingston, Santa Fe, and Ravinia festivals, as well as at Lincoln Center, La Jolla Summerfest, Caramoor, and Chamber Music Northwest. The members of the Formosa Quartet currently serve on faculty at Eastern Michigan University, Roosevelt University, and Heifetz International Music Institute. They have previously taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Taos School of Music, and the Juilliard School.

Formed in 2002 when the four Taiwanese-descended founders came together for a concert tour of Taiwan, the Formosa Quartet’s cultural identity has since expanded to include broader American, pan-Asian, and Eastern European roots. Their name “Formosa” is taken in its most basic sense: Portuguese for “beautiful.”

The Formosa Quartet forms an octet with violins Andrea Guarneri (1662) and Joseph Curtin (2001), a Peter Westerlund viola (2014), and a Vincenzo Postiglione cello (1885).