Grammy Award-winning violinist Yvonne Lam enjoys challenging, delighting, and disarming audiences worldwide with her thoughtful musicianship, technical prowess, and fearless performance aesthetic. A champion of new music, Yvonne has performed over a hundred world premieres of commissioned works.
Her upcoming debut solo album Watch Over Us was inspired by a piece written for her by Nathalie Joachim featuring solo violin and electronic track. The album also features works by Missy Mazzoli, Anna Clyne, Kate Moore, Katherine Balch and Eve Beglarian.
As a co-artistic director of Eighth Blackbird, Yvonne toured internationally with the ensemble for eight years, performing as featured soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Lexington Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, and the Tasmanian Symphony. She recorded three albums with Eighth Blackbird, winning a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for the album Filament. In 2017, she co-founded the Blackbird Creative Lab, an intensive tuition-free training program for performers and composers in Ojai, California, as a way to inspire future generations of artists to share in Eighth Blackbird’s vision of championing new work and engaging audiences with innovative and dynamic performance. In addition to teaching and mentoring at the Blackbird Creative Lab, Yvonne has given lessons, masterclasses and lectures at universities throughout the US in addition to long-term residency activities at the Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Chicago, and the University of Richmond. She joined the faculty of Michigan State University in 2019, where she is an Assistant Professor of Violin and the Coordinator of Chamber Music.
Prior to joining Eighth Blackbird, Yvonne served three seasons as Assistant Concertmaster of the Washington National Opera Orchestra and as Associate Concertmaster of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. She has also appeared as soloist with such renowned orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia. Winner of the silver medal at the 2005 Michael Hill World Violin Competition, Yvonne has also garnered top prizes at the Liana Issakadze International Competition and the Holland-America Music Society Competition. She won the grand prize at the Pasadena Instrumental Competition and first prize at the Bronislaw Kaper Awards, the Arts and Talent Recognition Search festival (sponsored by the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts), and the Donna Reed Foundation Competition. Furthermore, she won prizes for the Best Performance of a Commissioned Work at the Irving M. Klein International String Competition and at the Michael Hill World Violin Competition.
An avid chamber musician, Yvonne toured the east coast with Musicians From Marlboro, collaborated with her orchestra colleagues regularly, and toured with musica aperta in Puerto Rico. She has performed at Marlboro Music Festival, Music From Angel Fire, Ravinia Music Festival, Twickenham Fest, Taos Music Festival, and Yellow Barn Music Festival, and had the privilege of playing chamber music with such distinguished musicians as Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, Gil Kalish, Paul Katz, Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, Ida Levin, Anthony Marwood, and Roger Tapping. Yvonne also enjoys an ongoing collaboration with the jazz bassist and composer Matt Ulery, performing with his trio in Chicago and New York, and appearing on two of his albums. Her most recent collaboration with the experimental performance group Every House Has A Door convened emerging visual artists, musicians, writers and directors in performance projects at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Chicago Art Institute.
A native of Los Angeles, Yvonne began her early studies in violin purely by mistake, thinking it was a guitar. Refusing to admit her mistake, she persisted, studying violin and piano at the Colburn School of Performing Arts. Her violin teachers in Los Angeles included Alexander Treger, Laura Schmieder, Alice Schoenfeld, and Linda Rose; her piano teachers were Dr. Louise Lepley and Yohsuke Suga. She continued her studies for two years at the Peabody Institute, where she studied violin with Victor Danchenko and piano with Boris Slutsky and Brian Ganz. She continued her violin studies with Victor Danchenko, earning her Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, and her Master of Music from the Juilliard School, where she studied with Robert Mann. She still has not learned to play the guitar, even though there are at least two in her basement.
Yvonne has lived in every major city on the east coast except Boston, and spent eight years in Chicago. She now lives with her husband and two sons in East Lansing, Michigan.