Home is Where the Music is for Pacific Symphony’s Taiwanese Violinist Chloe Chiu
Some people don’t wait for life to happen. Born in Taiwan, Chloe (Szu-Yun) Chiu picked up her first violin at the age of 8 and started captivating Asian audiences at the tender age of 9. She became a frequent prizewinner in her homeland, winning a multitude of prestigious awards, including first prize at the Taoyuan, Tainan Music, Hsing Tian Kong Music and Taipei Music competitions. With the blessing of her family, Chloe left Taiwan when she was just 18, so that she might travel around the globe to further her music education and because she knew there were more opportunities in Western countries for classical musicians.
“I wanted to have a chance to experience as much as I could. My education led me from Taiwan to Singapore to the East Coast of the United States,” Chiu says. She went on to receive her music education with full scholarships at the University of Singapore, Peabody Institute and then the University of Southern California. She has studied with many esteemed musicians including Glenn Dicterow, Bing Wang, Victor Danchenko and Qian Zhou.
It was five years ago that Chiu made her first big decision entirely on her own—to move to California to attend USC. In 2015, she auditioned and joined Pacific Symphony in the second violin section. “I couldn’t express how happy I was to win the audition!” she exclaims. “I felt very privileged and grateful to be part of this Symphony’s family in Orange County. I have no regret on any part of my journey to get here. I have met so many wonderful people wherever I’ve been and I wouldn’t have all I do without two things—my supportive family and music."
Throughout her first season with the Symphony, Chiu says, “I have experienced so many great moments, performing all kinds of different concert programs in the community. There have been unforgettable moments on stage, full of joy and other emotions, interacting and sharing with the audiences. I remember when I first arrived, there were a couple of pieces we performed—traditional folk songs from Chinese culture—and I just couldn’t stop smiling as we played."
Chiu says one of the things she loves about being a musician is that “no matter where you’re from and what language you speak, you can express yourself through music. Music has the power to bring people with different cultural backgrounds together. This is no doubt a very important mission for me—especially here in Orange County where we have such diversity. As a musician, I will always strive to introduce different cultures to each other through music."
Considering her youth, Chiu’s accomplishments are quite impressive. She has become a compelling young violinist who has performed intercontinentally throughout Australia, Europe (Austria, Bulgaria, Italy), Asia (Singapore and Taiwan) and the Middle East (Israel). In 2010, she was laureate in the Canetti International Violin Competition in Israel, and she was the grand finalist in Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition in Italy. Chiu says: “The challenge for me is always being able to find time to visit my family back in Taiwan. But what I like the most about living in California is the variety of cultures. I feel like I have more freedom to express myself for who I am and where I’m from."