Cellist BEN HONG joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1993, at age 24, making him the youngest member of the orchestra at that time. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Ben won his native country's National Cello Competition three years in a row before leaving home, at 13, for the Juilliard School. Later he studied with Lynn Harrell at the University of Southern California School of Music before joining the LA Phil.
In addition to performing with the LA Phil as the assistant principal cellist, he also performs frequently as soloist and as a member of chamber music ensembles. Ben has collaborated with such artists as Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Lynn Harrell, Janine Jansen, Lang Lang, Cho-Liang Lin, Bobby McFerrin, Christopher O'Riley, Sir Simon Rattle, Shanghai String Quartet, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Lars Vogt, and Long Yu.
Ben's desire to grow musically has resulted in a number of diverse performance opportunities. In June of 2000, he gave the US premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's cello concerto "Kai" with Rattle conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Ojai festival. Then in 2006, Ben performed a Bach Cello Suite with the local hip-hop orchestra, DaKah, at Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the annual Grand Avenue Festival. That performance inspired a passion for improvisation, which he continues to develop with violinist/singer Lili Haydn. His improvisation with Lili was spotlighted by Alex Ross in a 2007 article in the New Yorker Magazine focusing on the LA Phil.
In May of 2007 on the Philharmonic's Green Umbrella series at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Ben performed the Philharmonic premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina's In Croce. Classical music critic Alan Rich described it as "an amazing work for cello (the Philharmonic's Ben Hong) and organ (Mark Robson), ecstatic and ecstatically played: hypnotic, intense, an unceasing 19-minute mantra." In July of 2008 at the Hollywood Bowl, he was the soloist for the LA Phil premiere of Tan Dun's "Crouching Tiger Concerto," conducted by Long Yu. Los Angeles Times Music Critic Mark Swed said, "This was 26 minutes of really enchanting music played really well. The amplification was cranked up high yet without distortion, and the Bowl was magically bathed in Hong's bold, gorgeous tone."
Most recently, Ben was hired by Dreamworks to train several members of the cast of the upcoming movie, "The Soloist", including Jamie Foxx and Tom Hollander. He also served as an on-set technical advisor. The movie is based on Steve Lopez's columns in the Los Angeles Times about Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former Juilliard student who ended up on the streets of Los Angeles homeless and schizophrenic yet held tight to his music. Ben's playing will be featured on the film's soundtrack.
Ben's other interests include working on and riding his three sports motorcycles, bicycling, scuba diving, martial arts, and West African drumming.