With “a prodigious clarity of diction” (Scherzo) and “a moving tendresse” (BBC Music Magazine), Esther Yoo has been described as “the model of a violin soloist in the modern age.” (The Strad). In 2010, she became the youngest prizewinner of the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition and of the Queen Elisabeth Competition two years later. In 2014 she became a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and in 2018 was selected as one of Classic FM’s Top 30 Artists under 30. In 2020, she was named one of WQXR’s ‘20 For 20’ artists to watch.
In the 2023/24 season, Esther debuts with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Orquestra Sinfónica RTVE, as well as joining BBC Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Davis for the world premiere of Raymond Yiu’s Violin Concerto, touring with Philharmonia Orchestra and returning to iconic venues such as Wigmore Hall and Concertgebouw Amsterdam.
Esther has worked with a wide range of leading conductors, including Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Vasily Petrenko, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Dalia Stasevska, Myung-Whun Chung, Thierry Fischer, and Karina Canellakis. Previous seasons have seen Esther perform across the world, appearing with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, KBS Symphony Orchestra, as well as at Lincoln Center, Royal Albert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall and Seoul Arts Center and prominent festivals such as the BBC Proms and Aspen Music Festival. In 2018, Yoo was appointed as Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s inaugural Artist in Residence.
As a chamber musician, Esther regularly appears both in recital and as a member of Z.E.N. Trio alongside former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists Zhang Zuo and Narek Hakhnazaryan, with whom she has toured across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and released two albums on Deutsche Grammophon, Brahms & Dvořák: Piano Trios and Burning Through the Cold, featuring the piano trios of Shostakovich, Babadjanian, Rachmaninov and Khachaturian.
A prolific recording artist, Esther has released several albums on Deutsche Grammophon, most recently releasing Barber, Bruch – featuring the respective composers’ violin concertos – to critical acclaim and previously having recorded the violin concertos of Sibelius, Glazunov and Tchaikovsky. She also features prominently on the soundtrack of the feature film On Chesil Beach, as well as a guest artist on pianist Chad Lawson’s album breathe, both released on Decca Records.
Esther is unique among classical soloists in being fully tricultural. She was born and spent her earliest years in the US before receiving her education in Belgium, Germany and the UK, but she proudly retains her family’s Korean heritage. Having roots in three continents contributes to her versatility and exceptionally broad range of expression, and is unquestionably a factor in making her one of the most articulate and gifted communicators in the field of classical music.
Demonstrating those skills, she curated a two-hour programme for BBC Radio 3, is a frequent contributor to BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, The Arts Desk, and The Strad, writing not only about repertoire and practice techniques, but wider issues, such as mental health and well-being.
“Yoo’s ability to shift seamlessly from lyric sweetness to eye-popping technical brilliance, especially in music high at the top of the instrument’s range, paid dividends here.”
“What a magnificent violinist! Not even looking with a magnifying glass did we find the slightest hint of imperfection."
“Esther Yoo is a very original violinist, possesses a very clear phrasing, perfect intonation, and gave Bruch’s concerto that mix of intimacy and folk joy in the last movement, very characteristic of the work.”
- Royal Bangkok Symphony Behind the Scenes: Esther Yoo
- Esther Yoo - Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
- Deutsche Grammophon - Liuyang River (Chinese folk song)
- Deutsche Grammophon - Esther Yoo on Barber and Bruch Album
- Esther Yoo - Behind the scenes on Chad Lawson's 'breathe'
- field of forever by Chad Lawson ft. Esther Yoo and Peter Gregson