Cellist Nathan Chan discovered his talent for music at an early age through conducting. Before he was two, he could emulate the styles of conductors he saw on music videos such as Seiji Ozawa, Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein, using a chopstick as a baton. As a toddler, his imitations were so intuitively musical that he caught the attention of San Francisco Opera Assistant Conductor Sara Jobin. Under her eye, he made his debut as a conductor at age three, leading the San Jose Chamber Orchestra in a set of Mozart variations, despite not yet being able to read music. This was followed by a guest appearance with the Palo Alto Philharmonic a year later, conducting the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Initially drawn to the sounds of low strings, he began formal music lessons with cellist Irene Sharp at age five. He later studied with Sieun Lin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Nathan Chan has performed as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, Reno Philharmonic, and Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra, working with conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, James Gaffigan, Alexander Prior, Benjamin Simon, Donato Cabrera, Alasdair Neale, Edwin Outwater, Laura Jackson, and David Allen Miller, among others. He also participated in the Emmy-award winning NPR program From The Top and NPR's Performance Today with Fred Child. In 2009, he was featured in The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies, a three-part British series documenting a global search for talented musicians, in which Nathan and three other performers gave the world premiere of the Velesslavista Quadruple Concerto, composed by Alexander Prior. Nathan Chan has performed benefit concerts for the American Alzheimer's Association and the Friends of Children with Special Needs, among others. For his contributions to the community, he won the Peninsula Arts Council’s Ray Lorenzato Diamond Arts Award in 2007. In 2006, Nathan Chan appeared in The Music in Me, a documentary that aired on HBO and won the Peabody Award. This program led to a performance in Carnegie Hall and caught the attention of the legendary soul singer Roberta Flack, who invited Nathan to collaborate on her project of Beatles songs for Sony Records.
Nathan Chan was named a 2012 Davidson Fellow for his project entitled, "The Importance of Passion” and was awarded a $25,000 scholarship as part of this prestigious honor. While in New York City, he made his debut in Avery Fisher Hall (now David Geffen Hall) playing Haydn's Cello Concerto in C Major and with the Juilliard Orchestra performing Strauss' Don Quixote as the winner of the 2013 Juilliard Cello Concerto Competition, led by Maestro Leonard Slatkin. In 2015, Mr. Chan was chosen to participate in Classe d'Excellence du Violoncelle with world-renowned cellist Gautier Capuçon in association with Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France. Nathan won the 2015 Aspen Low Strings Concerto Competition playing Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D Major and was a recipient of the 2016 Samuel Mayes Memorial Cello Award at Tanglewood.
Nathan is a strong proponent of using technology and media to attract others into the classical world and is committed to his fast growing Internet presence; to date, he has over 6.8 million views on YouTube. He recently joined the Seattle Symphony as their new Third Chair Cello.
Nathan received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics at Columbia University and his Masters of Music with Richard Aaron at The Juilliard School.
“At 23, and with a small frame and Harry Potter-ish glasses, Chan at first looks like a high-school kid who sneaked into the symphony. But once Chan starts to play, he brings a wide, rich tone, and you can hear why he’s one of conductor Ludovic Morlot’s most exciting recent hires.” — Seattle Times
“Nathan is perhaps one of the most inspiring human beings that I’ve come across in the last two decades. It never ceased to amaze me how blessed, generously gifted and humble he is. I can’t wait to do other things with him. He is destined for big success.” — Roberta Flack
“Rather than just hearing how a piece of music begins and end, Chan wants to communicate to audience(s) every step it takes to climb the musical mountain.” — NPR's Performance Today with Fred Child
“Nathan was a joy to watch. This young man obviously loves what he does... he exuded the most passion while performing. Parallels with Yo Yo Ma? You bet!” — JustWatchLah (Singapore)
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