YI-JIA SUSANNE HOU • A Violin by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, c. 1735, Cremona, "Mary Portman" 

Photo: Yuri Colleoni

“I loved the 'Mary Portman' from the moment I picked it up. I really felt drawn to it. I didn’t want to put it down. There’s an entire world to explore. I’m going to learn so much more about the violin. I can’t wait! It’s so inspiring. It’s the most magical feeling in the world. The violin has tremendous power, color, everything. I feel the connection and energy and potential so clearly. Karen Arrison suggested I take it into the studio and try it for recording. I did and was blown away. This violin will continue my artistic growth. It challenges you when you challenge it. It’s exhilarating.”
- Yi-Jia Susanne Hou

Called “phenomenal“ by Lord Yehudi Menuhin, it is no surprise that Canadian violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou was the first ever to capture three gold medals with unanimous decisions at top international violin competitions: the Concours International Long-Thibaud (France, 1999), Lipizer International Violin Competition (Italy, 1999), and Sarasate International Violin Competition (Spain, 1997).  Jean-Jacques Kantorow, a member of jury at the Concours International Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud in 1999 gave Hou’s playing the highest praise, “By the final round of the competition, Ms. Hou had the entire jury at her feet.“

Hou was also the first violinist to win the Canada Council for the Arts Instrument Bank Competition for a second time. Her many other awards and prizes include first place in the Canadian Music Competitions for three consecutive years, the Juilliard Dvorák Concerto Competition, the Juilliard-Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra Competition, and the F. Nakamichi Sibelius Violin Competition at the Aspen Music Festival.

Hou was the subject of the CBC’s “The National” documentary Shanghai Sensation, where she revisits her childhood in Shanghai with her father Alec Hou, a renowned violin pedagogue in China.  She can also be heard performing the violin solos in the Atom Egoyan film Adoration, featuring music composed by Mychael Danna.

The violinist has traveled the world, touring in Canada with Debut Atlantic and Prairie Debut and throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Her numerous solo appearances include those with the London Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre Nationale de l’Île de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, WDR Cologne, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic, Osaka-Kansai Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra, Czech National Orchestra, and Slovenia Radio-Television Orchestra.

A lead violinist for two seasons with BOWFIRE, the highly acclaimed production led by Lenny Solomon, Hou has been seen on PBS and NBC’s top morning program Today.

Hou’s upcoming engagements include performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Victoria Symphony conducted by Bernhard Gueller, Tchaikovsky’s Violin  Concerto with the Ontario Symphony led by Marco Parisotto, and Alexander Brott’s Violin Concerto with the McGill Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Boris Brott.

Her latest CDs include You Can Never Have too many Suites which features music by Falla, Shostakovich, Kreisler, Yang, Tang, and Li with pianist Vincent Sangaré Balse and Fantasy with music by Schubert and Sarasate. Pianist Vincent Sangaré Balse accompanies.

Hou’s mother and father are violinists. At the age of four she began studying violin with her father, Alec Hou. Less than a year later she gave her first public performance and received a standing ovation. At nine she received a scholarship student to attend the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Since then Hou has been the recipient of scholarships and fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival for nine summers. She also received scholarships to study at The Juilliard School where she received her Bachelor of Music degree as a student of Dorothy DeLay and Naoko Tanaka in 2000. She then went on to complete the Masters program and the prestigious Artist Diploma Program at Juilliard studying with Cho Liang Lin and Naoko Tanaka.

Hou previously has been the recipient of a Guarneri School violin, Cremona, c. 1740 on loan from The Stradivari Society.

The violinist has received great critical acclaim: “It sometimes seems that the world is mass-producing great instrumentalists. What sets Yi-Jia Susanne Hou apart from her many brilliant contemporaries is a style of playing that combines the executant skill of today’s best with the expressiveness of violinists 50 to 150 years ago … I cannot recall hearing a violinist in a live performance who could coax as big a tone out of a violin; she can also draw a fine-spun pianissimo, “Robert McColley, Fanfare.  “Her sound is strangely strong yet delicate; her technique near flawless, “The Strad. “She played the Mendelssohn Concerto like no one else on earth except herself — meticulously precise, expressively poetic, energetically fiery. She sang out the heartbreaking sweetness of the second movement, then attacked the tempo in the final measures of the last movement like the river-horses in The Fellowship of the Ring charging down the Nazgul and sweeping them away. It was overwhelming and irresistible,“ Stephen Pedersen, Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia. For additional information go to www.susannehou.com.