Praised by the London Times as “ravishing”, the Los Angeles Times as “technically immaculate”, the Seattle Times as “sublime”, the Boston Globe as “sensational”, the San Francisco Chronicle for his “fierce virtuosity”, the Dallas Morning News for his “most spectacular viola playing”, and the New York Times as “high class” with an “elegant, velvety tone”, EMMY Award winning VIOLIST RICHARD YONGJAE O’NEILL is one of very few violists ever to receive an Avery Fisher Career Grant and two Grammy Award Nominations (Best Soloist with Orchestra and Best Chamber Music). Concerto appearances include the London Philharmonic with Vladimir Jurowski and Vassily Sinaisky, the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Miguel Harth Bedoya, the Seoul Philharmonic with François Xavier Roth, the KBS and Korean Symphony Orchestras, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Alte Musik Köln and Sejong. Recent highlights include re-engagements with the London Philharmonic with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, at London’s Royal Festival Hall and on tour to Seoul Arts Center and the National Concert Hall of Madrid; his debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis, his seventh season as Artistic Director of DITTO, his South Korean Chamber Music project, tours of Japan with guitarist Muraji Kaori, Dong-Hyek Lim and Ensemble DITTO, and his conducting debut at the Sejong Performing Arts Center as well as a televised Peace Concert at the Demilitarized Zone. As a recitalist he has appeared at many of the world’s finest halls including Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel Halls, Avery Fisher Hall, The Kennedy Center, Herbst Theater, Wigmore Hall, Salle Cortot, Tokyo’s Opera City, and Seoul Arts Center.
A UNIVERSAL/Deutsche Grammophon Recording Artist, his eight solo albums have sold well over 150,000 copies, including Platinum Disc Awards for Winter Journey, Nore and Preghiera and My Way for Deutsche Grammophon and Mysterioso for ARCHIV Produktion. Lacrymae, for UNIVERSAL Korea, was the 2006 bestselling album for both Classical and International Pop Recordings.
Much in demand as a chamber musician, he has served as an Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2008 and the resident violist of Camerata Pacifica since 2006. Earlier career positions include sole violist of Chamber Music Society Two 2004-06, and six years as principal violist and soloist of Sejong, a conductorless string orchestra. He has collaborated with many of the world’s finest musicians such as Emanuel Ax, Leon Fleisher, Garrick Ohlsson, Menahem Pressler, Steven Isserlis, the Emerson and Juilliard String Quartets, Ensemble Wien-Berlin, among many others. Festival appearances include Marlboro, Aspen, Bridgehampton, Brooklyn, Casals, Chamber Music Northwest, Great Mountains, La Jolla, La Folle Journée, Maestro Mecklenburg, Mostly Mozart, Music Academy of the West, Prussia Cove, Seattle, St. Barthelemy, and TongYeong.
A popular figure in South Korea, Mr. O’Neill has been the subject of several documentaries broadcast to millions, and featured on all of Korea’s major television networks, radio stations, and in various newspapers and magazines. His chamber music project, DITTO, 2008’s most popular classical music presentation, has introduced tens of thousands of people to chamber music. DITTO’s first international tour sold out Hall A of the Tokyo International Forum (5200) and Osaka Symphony Hall. He has served as “Smile Ambassador” for Visit Korea Year 2010-12 (organized by the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism), Special Representative to UNICEF, Korean Red Cross Goodwill Ambassador, marathon runner and author, including a best-selling classical music appreciation guide. In the United States, he has appeared on PBS Live from Lincoln Center and CNN, served as Young Artist-in-Residence for National Public Radio in Washington D.C., and featured on national radio broadcasts of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
An advocate for the music of our time, he has collaborated with many composers including Elliott Carter, Paul Chihara, Mario Davidovsky, Oliver Knussen, Jo Kondo, Peter Lieberson, Thea Musgrave, Huang Ruo, David del Tredici, Melinda Wagner, Charles Wuorinen and John Zorn. Most recently, he premiered Elliott Carter’s String Trio, written for and dedicated to him, cellist Fred Sherry and violinist Rolf Schulte for the composer’s 103rd Birthday Celebration concert at the 92nd Street Y. Last season he premiered a viola concerto written for him by Huang Ruo. Mr. O’Neill is dedicated to recording lesser known music for labels such as Naxos, Bridge, Centaur and Tzadik: his recordings of Schoenberg and Webern for Naxos were the subject of an extensive New York Times article which described his performances as “revelatory”.
The first violist to receive the Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School, he holds a Bachelors of Music, magna cum laude, from The University of Southern California, and a Masters of Music from The Juilliard School. He studied with Paul Neubauer and Donald McInnes. Residing in New York City and Los Angeles, he was honored with a Proclamation from the New York City Council for his achievement and contribution to the Arts. A dedicated educator and mentor as well as performer, Mr. O’Neill has served on the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music at the University of California Los Angeles since 2007 and has served as artistic director of the Hello?! Orchestra, a multicultural youth orchestra based in Ansan, Korea. This orchestra was the subject of a four part documentary series for MBC Television, and the film version will debut this October at the Busan Film Festival.
He plays on a fine and rare viola made by Matteo Goffriller ex-Trampler, of Venice, made in 1727.