“The instrument is somewhat an extension of the body, in which it speaks the soul of the player as interpreter.” – CheHo Lam
At the age of six, when his father first brought home a 1/8 size violin, CheHo Lam was ecstatic. “He said that this instrument was not a toy, that it would be my serious responsibility to take good care of it; that it was my ‘sabre‘ to always keep by my side.”
While his family wasn’t particularly musical, his father’s love of music and his family’s support encouraged him to pursue a musical career. But he never imagined that this instrument would take him from his family in Hong Kong to New York, on the other side of the globe.
Yet that’s exactly what happened. At the age of 18, CheHo traveled to New York to begin his studies at the Eastman School of Music of Music at University of Rochester. During his time at university he and his string quartet from the school were given the opportunity to perform at the Inaugural Luncheon for President Obama’s second term as president. Though he remembers, seeing the Inaugural Ceremony on his computer in Hong Kong in early 2009, he says he never would have imagined participating in one.
Following his graduation, CheHo moved to New York City to continue his music career and travels around the U.S. performing at venues like Carnegie Hall, one of the most prestigious venues in the world for musicians, hospitals, schools and events. When he’s traveling and performing he usually carries business cards with him to hand out, but says that,“The Intro App has to be my new favorite feature of about.me — I don’t even have to bring business cards with me now!”
Though his frequent travel means he doesn’t have an especially regular schedule, he tries to keep himself to a strict practice routine of at least two hours per day. And these days, it’s not just any violin he plays and practices on. A benefactor provide him with a fiddle crafted in 1737 in Florence, Italy by renowned maker, Giovanni Battista Gabrielli. CheHo calls it “an extension of his body” and says that while every instrument has it’s own voice and character, “the moment I first placed the bow on this violin was a very magical moment — it was the tone, the depth, and the color I have been looking for.”
Here he is performing one of his favorite compositions, Cesar Franck’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. CheHo tells us that, “It is a piece Franck wrote as a wedding gift for his violinist virtuoso friend Eugene Ysaÿe, and it has been a widely performed piece of music since. I didn’t want to start learning it until I was mature as an individual and as a musician to hopefully do the composer’s artistry justice.”
In addition to practicing, performing and traveling for concerts, CheHo also teaches violin lessons to children from age five to music lovers and professionals of all ages. “One of the most fascinating things about teaching is you learn so much from being a teacher, especially in realizing how important it is to keep going back to the basics and fundamentals.”
Then, of course, are the daily tasks of being in the music business which, according to CheHo, requires a lot of time for making phone calls and exchanging emails with presenters, managers and sponsors.
In whatever spare time he has left in his busy schedule, CheHo enjoys absorbing the culture of New York City through live concerts, watching basketball on TV (he’s a huge Warriors and Steve Kerr fan) and collaborating with other artists. From dancers to actors, painters, musicians and even YouTubers, CheHo continues to enjoy working with and learning from the artists he’s met since journeying to New York.
Eliana Arredondo is the Community Manager for about.me. She is a graduate of Stanford University.