When the pandemic began, violist Phillip Ying watched his concert schedule dry up. Like many musicians, he found himself with free time and a host of new, unimaginable challenges for himself, his quartet, and his students at the Eastman School of Music.
Ying, an Assistant Professor of Viola and an Associate Professor of Chamber Music at Eastman, is a Grammy award-winning member of the Ying Quartet. In a normal year, he would perform across the United States, Europe and Asia. In 2020, when became clear that the Ying Quartet would not be appearing anywhere for live concerts, Phillip says, the musicians decided to tackle a monumental project.
The original members of the quartet were all siblings, including violinists Timothy and Janet Ying, violist Phillip, and David Ying playing cello. In April 2009, Timothy announced he was leaving the ensemble. Violinist Robin Scott joined the group in 2015.
Phillip and his siblings grew up in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka. They began to play together officially in 1988, when Janet entered the Eastman School. (Her brothers were already studying there.) The Quartet launched a professional life in 1992, soon winning the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award.
Watch Brenda Tremblay’s full interview with Phillip Ying.
Watch the Ying Quartet play and discuss their pandemic year project here.